The State of the New York Unified Court System

While many of the functions of the courts have started to return to normal, there are still major changes that remain in place from COVID-19. Here are some of the most important things to know about how New York’s courts are operating as of May 2021:

The Continued Use of Teleconferencing for Court Hearings

Over the course of the pandemic, the courts began to increasingly rely on Zoom, Google Meet, and other teleconferencing programs to allow for court proceedings to be conducted remotely. While some hearings are again being conducted in person, many will continue to be handled remotely, especially in cases where a defendant is confined in a hospital or other medical facility. In addition, no one will be legally penalized for failing to attend a court proceeding due to coronavirus-related reasons.

Major Changes to Jury Trials

Witnesses in trials must testify in plexiglass booths equipped with air filtration systems, and courts have been equipped with special communication systems to allow lawyers and their clients to communicate privately while maintaining social distancing. Jurors, witnesses, and lawyers must also conform with masking requirements and other protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Rules for Entering a Courthouse

Anyone who wishes to enter a courthouse in New York must wear a mask, preferably an N95 or KN95 medical mask. They must also submit to a temperature check and can be turned away if they have a fever. They may also be denied entry if they demonstrate any symptoms of COVID-19 infection, or if they have had recent contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

New Procedural Rules for Virtual Bench Trials

New York State has issued new rules for conducting bench trials remotely. These rules, which can be found here, lay out the protocols for handling remote proceedings. They include rules for maintaining decorum online, rules for conducting sidebar conferences, as well as special considerations for criminal bench trials.

The process servers at Nicoletti & Harris have provided service of process and litigation support for our clients since 1986, giving us the experience to handle the demands of the modern legal environment. We provide service for all areas of law, assisting clients throughout New York, New Jersey, and Florida. If you require a process server or other forms of litigation support, contact our New York office at (212) 267-6448, or you can contact our New Jersey office at (732) 677-3903, or you can visit our contact page.

 

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