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Courts suspend non-essential functions

FULTON COUNTY — All non-essential court proceedings in the state have been halted until further notice following an administrative order from state Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks and related executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of the ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Marks on Friday issued a release outlining statewide protocols to keep the New York State Unified Court System open for essential and emergency matters while postponing all other proceedings and filings amid measures aimed at halting the transmission of the coronavirus.

“Our goal is to ensure access to justice, and at the same time, protect the public and our judges and staff by containing the virus. The steps we have taken to carry out this dual responsibility are in line with the latest information and recommendations issued by our public health officials and are designed to contain the spread of the virus,” Marks stated.

Marks previously issued official memorandums on March 13 and 15 postponing all non-essential functions at all courts across the state until further notice effective March 16 at 5 p.m. The action allowed civil and criminal trials that were already underway to conclude, with no new trials to commence until further notice.

Additionally, Marks consolidated the locations for all essential and emergency proceedings to take place in judicial districts across the state until further notice. In Fulton and Montgomery Counties all emergency proceedings typically handled in city courts will be shifted to the courthouses of their respective counties.

An executive order issued by Cuomo on Friday in accordance with Marks’ directive limiting court operations temporarily “tolled” or delayed until April 19 any specific time requirements for “the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding, as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state.”

Marks subsequently issued an administrative order on Sunday stating that no papers will be accepted for filing by any county clerk or court in the state in any matter not included in an attached list of matters determined to be essential.

Essential criminal matters include arraignments, bail applications, temporary orders of protection, resentencing of retained and incarcerated defendants and essential Sex Offender Registration Act matters.

Essential family court matters include child protection intake cases involving removal, newly filed juvenile delinquency intake cases involving remand placement or modifications, emergency family offense petitions and temporary orders of protection, orders to show cause and stipulations on submission.

Essential supreme court matters include Mental Hygiene Law applications and hearings addressing patient retention or release, MHL hearings on the involuntary administration of medication or medical care, new MHL applications for an assisted outpatient treatment plan, emergency applications in guardianship matters, temporary orders of protection, emergency applications related to the coronavirus, emergency Election Law applications and extreme risk protection orders.

Essential civil and housing matters include applications addressing landlord lockouts, reductions in essential services, serious code violations or repair orders and for post-eviction relief.

The list of essential proceedings is subject to review and amendment as needed. All involved parties whose court dates or proceedings have been postponed as a result of the order will be contacted regarding rescheduling when normal court business resumes.

“By postponing nonessential court proceedings, we have dramatically reduced the number of people in our courthouses and sought to eliminate the person-to-person contact by which this virus spreads,” Marks stated of the measures.

Any questions relating to the coronavirus and the courts can call the Coronavirus Telephone Hotline at 1-833-503-0447. Questions regarding the status of any particular case should be directed by phone to the associated court.

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