Local courts return to in-person operations

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Court System will begin to return to in-person courthouse operations Monday in our region. Courts have been closed since mid-March, but now with the re-opening, only judges and staff are able to return to the courthouse.

The court will now accept new cases to file electronically, for example, file new lawsuits or new divorce cases. The court hasn’t done that since March 16 because of the pandemic.

“If you wanted to file a divorce action, if six or eight weeks at home made it very clear that a marital unit was simply needed to be dissolved, now you could do it. You could not do it unless it was an emergency situation, for the last eight weeks. If you have a business dispute and you try to negotiate it and it isn’t working, now you can go to court and get something done about that,” said Carolyn Nussbaum, President of the Monroe County Bar Association.

All judges and their chamber staff can return to the courthouse for administrative duties in five judicial districts, including Monroe and surrounding counties. This goes just as same for courts in towns and villages. 

“And we will be slightly enhancing our staffing levels in each building in the district so that we can begin to prepare the back offices to be ready ourselves for more significant in-person operations,” said Justice Craig Doran, Administrative Judge for New York’s Seventh Judicial District and a New York State Supreme Court Justice.

However, court proceedings such as evidentiary hearings and trials are still postponed, except for urgent cases. The state unified court system says these reopening plans can serve as a template in other counties.

“If they have an attorney, they can certainly contact their attorney. If they don’t have an attorney and they are self-represented, they can contact the court.  I will tell you that the judges over the last several weeks have been very diligent to continue with their cases, with conferences with the attorneys and with the parties,” said Doran. 

Safety health measures are in place in court for employees.

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