By Clerk of Court John Domurad
Please let me begin by saying that I hope this article finds readers safe and healthy during these turbulent times. I speak with confidence when I say every decision made by the Board of Judges during this crisis has placed the health and safety of the Court family and its stakeholders above all other interests. Their objective has been to find the appropriate balance between public safety and maintaining our constitutional responsibilities. At the same time, the Board (and the entire Court) has remained very aware of the stress the pandemic has placed on the practicing bar. Accordingly, rather than impose a universal stay in all civil cases, the Board has determined that taking a case-by-case approach to postponements would better suit the interests of justice and the bar. After all, the majority of our dockets are electronic and are unphased by the COVID-19 restrictions.
This decision to use a case-by-case approach has proven successful. As demonstrated in the chart below, based on a comparison of year-over-year statistics, our docketing activity is only down about 9% and the number of civil cases filed has actually increased by almost 18%.
Also successful has been the Board’s approach to criminal matters. On April 1, 2020, the Board approved General Order #60, which authorizes the submission of interim vouchers by Criminal Justice Act Panel members. I am pleased to see that our Panel members are taking advantage of this new General Order. Since its issuance, we have processed almost three times as many vouchers as we did during the similar period of 2019.
In closing, I suspect many of you are wondering about the plans to reopen the Courts. Currently, General Order #58 remains in effect until April 30, 2020. The Board of Judges is closely monitoring the situation and will meet the week of April 27 to discuss extending this Order into May. Any updates will be posted immediately to the NDNY’s homepage. I again want to emphasize that the Court’s first priority is the safety and well-being of the Court family and its stakeholders. If there is anything I can do to help you during these turbulent times, please feel free to reach out to me (518-257-1809) or Dan McAllister (315-234-8505), and we will be glad to help.