Update, March 17: Courts Respond to Coronavirus
John Roberts, Esq.
Arseneault & Fassett, LLP
In light of the national emergency due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), courts at every level of Government have restricted operations and public appearances.
- All federal U.S. Courthouses are prohibiting entry by visitors who (1) have been diagnosed with, or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with, COVID-19, (2) have been advised to self-quarantine by a doctor, hospital or health agency; (3) or reside or have been in close contact with someone who has been in close contact with someone who has been advised to self-quarantine. People who have court appearances or appointments with agencies such as Pre-Trial Services or Probation located in U,.S. Courthouses should contact their attorney, the agency, or the Court Clerk’s office.
- Under Standing Order 20-02, all federal jury trials, civil and criminal, scheduled to begin before April 30, 2020, have been continued (postponed) indefinitely. Other court proceedings may occur at the discretion of the individual trial judge. The period or March 16 to April 30, 2020, shall be “excluded time” for purposes of the Speedy Trial Act, Litigants, including criminal defendants, who seek relief from these provisions, such as a speedy trial, must apply for relief, which is subject to the decision of the Chief Judge of the District in consultation with the trial judge. Trial judges are encouraged to maximize use of telephonic and video conferencing.
- Under Standing Order 20-03, in all federal criminal matters, the time period from March 16 to April 30, 2020, shall be “excluded time” for purposes of the Speedy Trial Act, including matters commenced by Complaint and not yet indicted. Hard copy “courtesy copies” of electronic filings shall not be sent to chambers in criminal matters. In civil matters, individual trial judges have the discretion to decide whether to require courtesy copies.
- At the New Jersey State/County level, the following counties have postponed all court appearances scheduled for March 17, and all landlord/tenant sessions scheduled through March 27: Atlantic/Cape May, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem, Essex, Hudson, Somerset/Hunterdon/Warren, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris/Sussex, Ocean, Passaic, Union.
- The New Jersey Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Tax Court, the Superior Court Clerk’s Office, and the Administrative Office of the Courts remain open.
- All Municipal court sessions are postponed at least through March 30. Filings and payments may still be accepted if the municipal building is open.