By Chief Clerk John Domurad
As we enter our fifth month in the new COVID-19 environment, I thought it would be helpful to provide the FCBA membership with a brief summary of responses to some frequently asked questions regarding Court operations.
- Is the Court holding in-person proceedings? Yes, but on a limited basis. During the last month we held 56 in-court proceedings. The majority of these proceedings were felony pleas and sentencings. We anticipate this number will increase in the coming months. In addition, some limited civil proceedings (e.g., settlement conferences, motions, bench trials, etc.) may be held in-person when appropriate social distancing can be maintained. Absent exceptional circumstances, preliminary criminal proceedings will continue to be conducted via video-conferencing.
- What should I expect when entering an NDNY courthouse? General Order #61 requires all individuals to wear a mask/face covering when entering the courthouse and when in all common areas inside the courthouse. The presiding judicial officer will determine if the mask/face covering needs to be worn during the proceeding or inside court-controlled space. In addition, the public circulation patterns have been greatly reduced. If you need to access a restricted area, please ask a court security officer for assistance.
- What is the procedure if I or my client displays COVID-19 symptoms immediately before a scheduled proceeding? If you or your client displays any COVID-19 symptoms immediately prior to a scheduled proceeding, please contact the courtroom clerk for the presiding judge for further guidance. A list of the contact information for each chambers can be found at the following link: https://www.nynd.uscourts.gov/contacts-committees. Please do not attend the proceeding if you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
- Can interested parties attend a proceeding remotely? The decision about providing remote access is left to the discretion of each presiding judicial officer. Remote access options include telephonic access and, in some limited circumstances, video conference access. Requests for remote access can be sent to PublicProceedings@nynd.uscourts.gov at least 180 minutes prior to the scheduled start date of the proceeding.
- Are interim CJA vouchers still authorized? Yes, General Order #60 authorizes the approval of interim CJA vouchers. If you have any questions or concerns about a voucher, please feel free to contact Penny Price at 315-234-8512.
- When will trials recommence? We are currently developing a comprehensive trial plan that will allow us to recommence trials in a manner that protects the health and safety of all stakeholders. We envision recommencing civil trials in mid to late August with criminal trials starting later in the fall.
In closing, I want to thank all members of the FCBA for their understanding and patience with the Court as we navigate these turbulent times. As always, if you have any questions, concerns or comments about our Court policies, please feel free to reach out to me (518-257-1809) or Chief Deputy Dan McAllister (315-234-8505) and we will be glad to assist you.