Coronavirus: The Latest Court Closures And Restrictions

Originally published by Sarah Jarvis on law360.com


As courts across the country take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some are restricting access and altering their procedures. Here is a roundup of changes.


This list will be updated with new information as it becomes available. The latest updates include Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.


The US Supreme court closed to tourists on March 12 until further notice, but the building remains open for official business. 


In New York-


The Southern District of New York has suspended notice all civil and criminal jury trials until further. While case-related activities and naturalizations will continue, other noncase activities such as Continuing Legal Education events and school visits are canceled until further notice. All bankruptcy hearings and conferences scheduled to be held in the courthouses of the Manhattan Division, White Plains Division and Poughkeepsie Division of the bankruptcy court will be conducted by telephone unless the presiding judge decides otherwise.


The court urges counsel to check individual judges' webpages for possible orders, including orders extending time in civil matters and adjourning conferences.


The Southern District is prohibiting those who have visited China, Italy, Iran, Japan or South Korea along with a slew of European countries, according to signs posted at courthouse entrances on March 12. The Eruropean countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Vatican City, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, San Marino and Spain.


The court is also barring those with a fever, cough or shortness of breath, and the executive office in that district will not be issuing new attorney service passes until further notice. Access to courthouses is restricted to certain groups, including those with official court business, courthouse employees, certain contractors, mail carriers, law enforcement, credentialed press, family members of criminal defendants and jurors in ongoing trials.


In the Eastern District of New York, all petit jury selections and jury trials scheduled to start between April 27 and June 15 are postponed, as are grand jury selections. Compliance with trial deadlines is left to the presiding judge's discretion. All naturalization ceremonies are suspended for 45 days as of March 16. In-person attorney admission ceremonies at all courthouses are suspended until further notice. For all criminal matters that had preliminary hearings before magistrate judges scheduled for April 27 through June 15, preliminary hearing deadlines are extended 60 days after the initial appearance.


The district is allowing video or telephone conferencing for several types of proceedings, including detention hearings, initial appearances and arraignments.


Access to court buildings is restricted to "those whose presence is essential," according to an order. The court is prohibiting those who have traveled to China, Italy, Iran, Japan or South Korea and a slew of European countries in the past two weeks. Also prohibited are those who have come into close contact with anyone who has traveled to those countries within the past two weeks, have been asked to self-quarantine, tested positive for the coronavirus or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive.


In the Northern District of New York, all civil and criminal jury selections and trials — including for grand juries — scheduled to begin through June 15 are postponed until further notice. Other criminal matters before magistrate judges will continue to take place as usual. All mass public gatherings, including naturalization ceremonies, are suspended. Those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, have symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus are prohibited from entering any courthouse. Face masks are required in courthouses.


In the Western District of New York, all civil jury trials and grand jury selections are postponed until June 15. The court encouraged judges to reduce personal appearances for all other proceedings as much as they can. No naturalization ceremonies will be conducted until June 15. Those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, have symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus are prohibited from entering any courthouse. Anyone not wearing a mask will also be prohibited.


For state courts starting May 25, the state began allowing electronic filings in all state courts. Judges and designated staff in state courts in New York City may return to their courthouses as of June 10. All court business will initially be conducted remotely in those courts to minimize court traffic, and courthouse space will be allocated for unrepresented litigants to access essential court services.


The U.S. Court of International Trade in Manhattan is prohibiting entry to those who have visited China, Italy, Iran or South Korea in the past two weeks, as well as those who have been asked to self-quarantine. The restriction also applies to those who have tested positive for the coronavirus or have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive. The court is allowing teleconferencing and video conferencing with the approval of a presiding judge.


In New Jersey-


In the state of New Jersey, all civil and criminal jury selections and trials scheduled to begin before Aug. 31 are postponed until further notice. Judges can continue to hold proceedings at their discretion and are encouraged to conduct proceedings remotely. No new grand juries will be impaneled until further notice, but sitting grand juries may continue to meet. Those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, have symptoms or may have been exposed to the virus are prohibited from entering any district courthouse.


In the state court system, there will be no in-person Municipal Court, Superior Court and Tax Court proceedings, except for limited emergency matters. As many matters as possible will be handled remotely.


Schedules for nonjury proceedings such as landlord-tenant and small claims hearings will be staggered to prevent large groups of people from gathering in a confined area. Out-of-state travel has been suspended for staffers, and nonessential court events like student tours have been canceled.


For the full list of court closures and updates, as well as more Immigration news please visit- https://www.law360.com/articles/1252836/coronavirus-the-latest-court-closures-and-restrictions?nl_pk=08d9da11-1e01-48d8-821e-70c92a3ed1b0&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=special

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