Suffolk Court Closings – Message from Hon. C. Randall Hinrichs regarding Coronavirus
Since this post was first published, additional information has become available. Please see our updated post regarding court closures resulting from the Coronavirus.
To all of our clients,
Please see the message below from Administrative Judge, C. Randall Hinrichs regarding the Suffolk County court’s response to the Coronavirus. If any clients wish to adjourn their matters, please contact the office immediately.
Judge Hinrich’s Message:
The New York State Unified Court System has undertaken very significant efforts to reduce courthouse traffic and combat the spread of the coronavirus. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks have already announced measures relating to court proceedings and more are anticipated at the beginning of the week. The purpose of this communication with the Suffolk Bar is to inform all of you how these measures relate specifically to court proceedings in Suffolk County.
We are all very concerned about the health and safety of both our workforce and everyone that comes into our courthouses. Suffolk County, through the Suffolk County Executive’s Office and Suffolk County Department of Public Works, has been extremely helpful regarding additional/enhanced cleaning of our buildings. This cleaning includes, but is not limited to, mag stations, entrances, handrails, elevators, jury rooms, libraries and courtrooms/benches.
The Unified Court System in an effort to limit traffic in the courts during this medical emergency has directed Judges to entertain applications to extend timelines, postpone proceedings whenever possible and to fully consider the use of remote proceedings (video and telephonic). In addition, as many of you might already be aware, we have stopped the use of courthouses for non-essential events both during and after hours.
Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks has directed the following regarding Jury and Jury Trial Matters:
Effective this Monday, March 16, civil jury trials in which opening statements have not commenced shall be postponed until further notice; civil jury trials already commenced shall continue to conclusion. Criminal jury trials shall continue where jeopardy has attached; no new criminal jury trials shall be commenced. The jury selection process in civil and criminal trial matters shall be suspended until further notice. Existing grand juries will continue, upon consultation with the appropriate district attorney and empaneling judge. No new grand juries shall be empaneled absent exceptional circumstances.
SUPREME COURT CIVIL
Civil Trial Assignment Part:
Pursuant to the directive of Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks, effective March 16, 2020 the normal operation of the Civil TAP Part (CCP) is suspended until further notice. Notices will be sent out by the court with rescheduled dates. While the TAP (CCP) calendar is not being called on a daily basis, Justice Paul Baisley remains available to hear applications and conduct conferences as required.
Applications for adjournment on consent of preliminary conferences shall be faxed to the DCM Part at 631-852-2699. Absent an adjournment on consent, the parties shall call the DCM Part at 631-852-2343 to schedule a telephone conference with the Court Attorney-Referee assigned to DCM.
Settlement conferences in the ADR Part will go forward as scheduled in the ADR Referral Order. However, effective immediately and until further notice, settlement conferences will only be conducted telephonically. On the date of the conference at the scheduled time, once all counsel/parties are on the line, they shall call the ADR Part at 631-852-2911 to be put through to the assigned Judge/JHO.
Foreclosure CPLR 3408 Conferences:
CPLR 3408 settlement conference calendars scheduled in the Foreclosure Settlement Conference Part between are being re-scheduled for the next 45 days. Notifications of the re-scheduled dates will be sent to all parties.
We will provide additional information regarding statewide administrative orders and directives as that information becomes available.
Consistent with the goal to minimize courthouse appearances and maximize adjournments and stipulations on consent and conducting telephone or remote appearances when appropriate, all applications to adjourn a matter or to conduct a remote conference should be directed to the IAS Part. The IAS Judge retains discretion to direct parties to appear as appropriate. Any application regarding a pending non-jury trial before an IAS Part should also be made to the IAS Judge.
A Special Term Part in both Central Islip and Riverhead remains available to hear applications on a daily basis.
SUPREME COURT MATRIMONIAL
Effective March 16, 2020, all contested Matrimonial Parts in Suffolk County shall be managed with a goal of minimizing courthouse appearances, maximizing adjournments and stipulations on consent, and directing remote appearances through Skype or telephone.
Whenever practical matrimonial parts will permit appearances by Skype or telephone, and will entertain applications to extend deadlines, adjourn cases, and waive appearances by litigants.
Hearings and Trials:
Adjournment requests for hearings and trials will be determined by the individually assigned Justice on a case-by-case basis.
All motions in contested matrimonial cases not seeking emergency interim relief shall be taken on submission unless otherwise directed by the court. When emergency interim relief is sought, the court may, whenever practical, permit the appearance of opposing counsel and/or the parties by telephone or Skype.
Matrimonial Mediation Cases:
All matrimonial mediation sessions scheduled through April 3, 2020 will be rescheduled.
Family Court deals with extremely sensitive matters with the safety and well-being of families and children being of paramount importance. It is anticipated that statewide policies will be adopted for Family Court and additional communications are anticipated.
Judges, Referees and Support Magistrates will adjourn cases at their discretion, keeping in mind the safety and well-being of children and families.
Judicial Officers have been encouraged to do telephonic conferences when possible.
Family Treatment court In-team meetings will be conducted by phone/Skype. The court will collaborate with treatment facilities to ensure testing is being done and minimize court appearances.
The court will coordinate with the domestic violence agencies to increase usage of Remote Order of Protection applications and associate initial filings. (Attorneys may be assigned during remote appearance.)
The court will provide attorneys access to utilize a remote or “virtual” Clerk’s Office to file pleadings by e-mailing documents to SCFCRemoteClerk@nycourts.gov. Judges may allow telephonic appearance if immediate action required. Such request should be contained in e-mail.
All newly filed Custody, Guardianship, Visitation and Child Support cases shall be scheduled at staggered times throughout the day to avoid overcrowding and reduce wait times.
ADR sessions scheduled through April 3, 2020 will be rescheduled.
All Conferences scheduled on March 16, 2020, and thereafter, will be conducted telephonically, by other means (e.g. Skype) or adjourned to a future date. Please make the necessary arrangements and forward the information to the law assistant assigned to the matter so that she/he will be able to participate. The court will notify the parties or counsel, if represented, of any adjourn date.
On Process Calendar dates, the court will be calling matters according to departments in order to minimize the number of people in the courtroom. We will call Guardianship and Probate together; then Administration; then Accountings and Miscellaneous. The court will wait for the courtroom to clear of people before bringing in the next group. Unless otherwise directed by the court, all motions will be on submission; no appearances. There will be no conferences directed from the Process Calendar. Counsel shall advise their clients not to appear for the Process Calendar.
There will be no oral argument on orders to show cause or temporary restraining orders or other immediate relief without prior court approval. To the extent possible oral arguments will be held telephonically, via SKYPE or other means.
Any mediations that have been scheduled through the end of April will be rescheduled. Any new Early Settlement Conferences will be scheduled six weeks and a day from the process calendar date. These conferences shall be held telephonically; neither attorneys nor parties shall appear at the court for any conference.
All Examinations Before Trial will be conducted outside of the courthouse, including those previously scheduled to take place at the courthouse.
COUNTY COURT CRIMINAL AND DISTRICT COURT CRIMINAL
All Criminal Parts, at the discretion of the assigned Judge, have undertaken efforts to limit both in person appearances and the production of prisoners. On Monday, March 16th a meeting of the key criminal stakeholders is taking place to further implement the goals of reduced prisoner movement, limiting in person appearances and minimizing the number of individuals that appear at any time in a courtroom. There is also the potential for further action at the state level in the criminal area and if there are any additional developments, they will be shared immediately.
I am very appreciative of the collaboration that has always existed in Suffolk County between the bench and the bar. It is my hope that as we navigate this present medical crisis together, it only strengthens that bench/bar relationship. This crisis has continued to evolve and we will keep you apprised of any additional measures that are taken. Please be advised that additional statewide policies and orders will be issued at the beginning of the week, we will keep you posted. Your ongoing cooperation in these efforts is greatly appreciated. It is my privilege to work with an outstanding group of Judges, court employees and members of the bar. Thank you.
Hon. C. Randall Hinrichs
District Administrative Judge
10th Judicial District, Suffolk County