Administering Justice Remotely in the Westchester County Commercial Division
February 05, 2021
A quick timeout this week from some of our more substantive content here at NY ComDiv Practice to report on some upcoming events and happenings in and around the Commercial Division, particularly in Westchester County…
This past Monday, during her weekly message concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the court system (see video version here), Chief Justice Janet DiFiore commented on the recent amendments to the Uniform Civil Rules for the Supreme Court and the County Court, which, as extensively reported by my colleague and fellow blogger Peter Sluka last month, effectively implemented the Commercial Division’s rules and procedures into all civil courts across the State of New York:
[The amendments] are designed to make case management and pretrial litigation more efficient and cost-effective for lawyers and litigants in our civil courts. A number of changes also serve the goal of limiting unnecessary personal appearances and foot traffic in our courthouses.
On February 23, the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers is sponsoring a program entitled “New Uniform Rules for the Supreme and County Courts: The Implementation” during which Westchester County Commercial Division Justices Linda S. Jamieson and Gretchen Walsh will be presenting on these wholesale rule changes to the civil court system and discussing how the changes are being implemented statewide.
And speaking of unnecessary appearances and reduced foot traffic in the courthouse, Chief Judge DiFiore also reported this week on some specifics on court productivity in this new age of virtual or remote practice:
For the week of January 25th, our judges and staff conferenced and heard 24,309 matters; settled or disposed of 6,617 (or 27%) of those matters; and issued over 1,800 written decisions on motions and other undecided matters. In addition, 1,047 virtual bench trials and evidentiary and fact-finding hearings were commenced last week across the state.
As we reported late last year, recently-amended ComDiv Rule 1 (remote appearances) and Rule 6 (hyperlinking) represent quintessential examples of how the Commercial Division continues to be an adaptive and innovative leader in the world of specialized business courts. The amendments were particularly apropos given the circumstances forced upon us all by COVID, including the judiciary.
On March 24, the WCBA Business & Commercial Law Committee is sponsoring a virtual town-hall program, featuring Justices Jamieson and Walsh and their Principal Court Attorneys, who will be offering their views on the implementation of and practical effect that these amended ComDiv rules have had in the Westchester County Commercial Division, particularly on the topic of administering justice remotely during the ongoing pandemic. Also on hand for the lunchtime Zoom program will be a representative from Westchester and Long Island based Appellate Innovations, who will present on the nuts-and-bolts of bookmarking and hyperlinking legal documents in this virtual era.
Registration specifics for both programs can be found under “Events” on the WCBA website. Hope to see you all there!