On May 20, 2020, in light of evolving circumstances with respect to the COVID-19 health emergency, the Chief Administrative Judge of the New York State Courts issued a Memorandum lifting some of the restrictions previously put in place concerning court filings and other activities in New York State trial courts. The most significant change is that certain electronic filings will now be permitted again.
The Chief Administrative Judge’s initial guidance, issued on March 22, 2020, had essentially prohibited court filings (electronic and paper) in any matter not listed as an “essential matter”—which generally excluded filings in commercial matters, as discussed in our prior post
. On April 13, 2020, the Chief Administrative Judge encouraged trial courts in “non-essential” matters to begin holding conferences remotely, and on April 30, 2020, the Chief Administrative Judge loosened restrictions on electronic filings in existing non-essential matters.
The new memorandum maintains the moratorium on paper filings in all actions, but removes the remaining restrictions on electronic filings effective May 25, 2020, most notably now permitting the filing of new non-essential matters. This removal of the prior restrictions will apply even in those counties that have not yet met the benchmarks required to participate in the Governor’s regional reopening plan (but will be limited to cases in which represented parties file and serve all papers electronically).
The Chief Administrative Judge’s prior guidance on April 30, 2020 noted that trial courts might expect to see a “surge” of new litigation once courts return to more normal operations. Because Governor Cuomo’s orders tolling certain statutes of limitation remain in place (and have been extended until June 6, 2020), the full extent of any such surge may not yet be seen even as new commercial actions are now capable of being filed in New York State courts.