Earlier today the New York State Unified Court System announced that all courts outside of New York City will move to Phase 3 of the Court's plan for a gradual return to in-person operations.

According to the announcement, "[t]he goal of Phase Three is to increase foot traffic in the courthouse in a measured manner and extend the types of proceedings to be heard in-person."  As we previously covered, courts in New York City and the surrounding areas moved to Phase 2 on or before June 25, which permitted certain essential family matters to be conducted in-person and other matters to continue virtually. 

Phase 3 will allow the following matters to be heard in-person:

  • Child support proceedings
  • Selected plea and sentencing proceedings for defendants at liberty 
  • Preliminary hearings in criminal cases for defendants being held in jail on felony complaints 
  • Arraignments of defendants issued desk appearance tickets 
  • A limited number of bench trials in civil matters 
  • Essential Family Court matters (which were already happening in-person under Phase 2)

Under Phase 3, Judges are encouraged to continue to expand the use of virtual proceedings "whenever legally permissible and logistically possible."  Other non-essential matters will continue to be heard remotely.  Phase 3 also includes measures to safely manage courthouse traffic such as staggering court calendars, courtroom usage and other social distancing measures. 

For more information, and the latest updates, be sure to monitor our COVID-19 Resources Page for New York Lawyers.