On April 19, 2021, New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore issued a message requiring all judges and court staff, including clerks, officers, and other employees, to return to in-person work effective Monday, May 24, 2021. The order comes on the heels of the state of New York resuming civil and criminal jury trials on March 22, 2021. The return to in-person work for all staff marks the end of the work-from-home measures which had been in place for fourteen (14) months. As part of the press release, Chief Judge DiFiore stated: “It is time to return to our normal and full courthouse staffing levels in order to support the fuller resumption of in-person operations, including jury trials and other proceedings in our courts.”
Notwithstanding the return to in-person work for staff, New York courts will continue to utilize virtual and telephonic court proceedings developed and implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Chief Judge DiFiore confirmed that plans are being drafted to ensure protocols for the effective use of technology for conferences and hearings (which do not require in-person attendance by attorneys and parties) are in place so as to limit the number of people in the state courthouses to maintain safe occupancy levels. The return of normal operations is both welcome and critical, as Judges and staff attempt to dig out from the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.
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