As the world is battling the coronavirus outbreak, the legal community has been forced to adapt in their own unique ways. State courts in New York are closed for all but emergency filings, while other federal and state courts around the country have postponed jury trials, in-person hearings, and shifted to telephonic or video appearances. Everyone is operating with limited staff and skeleton crews. Many federal judges have issued standing orders detailing their own unique policies and procedures. Including Magistrate Judge Edison of the Southern District of Texas, who reminded attorneys appearing by video conference that while there was no requirement to wear formal courtroom attire during the video conference, “You are, however, required to wear clothes.”
Recently, in a case involving alleged counterfeit unicorn drawings and knock-off elves, Judge Seeger of the Northern District of Illinois issued a remarkable order reprimanding a plaintiff who filed multiple emergency motions. The plaintiff argued that defendants were infringing on its trademarks and sought multiple emergency temporary restraining orders. Denying plaintiff’s motions for emergency relief and hearings, the Court noted “[i]f there’s ever a time when emergency motions should be limited to genuine emergencies, now’s the time.” Judge Seeger stated “[t]he world is facing a real emergency. Plaintiff is not” and quipped “one wonders if the fake fantasy products are experiencing brisk sales at the moment.”
Other courts have taken a proactive approach in encouraging amicable resolution of procedural matters and settlement without requiring judicial intervention. In an order issued to all civil cases assigned to Judge Totenberg of the Northern District of Georgia, the Court gave the following directive: “Be kind to one another in this most stressful of times. Remember to maintain your perspective about legal disputes, given the larger life challenges now besetting our communities and world. Good luck to one and all.”
We join Judge Totenberg in wishing good luck and good health to all.