The COIVD-19 pandemic has forced the courts to adapt new procedures and guidelines to make the process safe but productive.
For people looking to take legal action, there are many concerns about how these changes will affect their legal issues. Not so long ago we teamed up to hold a webinar on how courts are handling cases during the COVID era and what kind of litigation to expect from legal action.
One of the biggest changes in litigation during this time is the increased integration of technology into the filing process. Since the beginning of the pandemic, electronic filing of cases has been made mandatory by some courts. Although different, there are many advantages to filing cases electronically. First and foremost, it protects plaintiffs and lawyers from risking the spread of COVID. However, with such a submission, you can also be informed immediately of the status of your file. When you submit your Family Court case electronically through the Electronic Document Delivery System (EDDS), we will immediately receive confirmation that your application has been submitted for filing. It can sometimes take days to submit it differently.
This can also save you or other potential customers money by eliminating the need to constantly send files and travel to and from court. The same goes for NYSCEF filings in divorce cases. It is imperative that you or your attorney contact the court for the guidelines for filing courts.
Once your case has been submitted, there are many different ways it can go. If you’ve completed a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI) form and a judge has been assigned to your case, you can expect your first appearance in court to be a Microsoft Teams meeting. This is the primary video conferencing software that you use when appearing in virtual court.
It is important to note that there may be more people present in some of these apparitions than just the attorneys and judges present. So don’t be nervous if there are people you don’t recognize right away, as in your case the typical court staff is sitting, e.g. B. the court clerk or stenographer, also known as a court reporter.
One of the issues that has arisen from our experience with child custody concerns court-appointed attorneys representing a child known as an Attorney for Child (AFC). Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to achieve the same level of engagement and privacy that was common in face-to-face meetings. Because many private meetings are held from computer screens or telephones, there is an opportunity for others to hear sensitive information about the case.
It is therefore necessary to take the necessary precautions so that you can protect your privacy when speaking to your lawyer or when the child is doing so. To avoid these issues, we drove to public places to meet with customers or stood in front of their screen doors to make sure we heard their full story. This allows us to continue their case with the same confidence and confidentiality as we would in a more traditional setting.
Be sure to discuss these safeguards and alternatives with your attorney so that you can take the arrangements you need to be comfortable with your procedure.
Finally, one of the most important things to remember when entering a virtual court is that it is still a court and proper formalities must be followed. This means that at your court date you will be prepared with the link to join the current call in order to prevent mishaps. Also, take note of your background and clothing when appearing virtually.
This means you shouldn’t be out of your car or sloppily dressed. Make sure to do a test run with your attorney prior to your court hearing to make sure your audio and environment are working and appropriate.
Overall, the most important thing is to be adaptable and prepared when facing a virtual court. Discuss with your attorney any relevant information, including what you would like to bring up during your court appearance. Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer to speak to him for a moment.
Also, don’t be offended if the judge asks you to leave the meeting temporarily. While this may be different from normal litigation, you can rest assured that the courts and lawyers have taken the necessary precautions to keep you safe while moving your matter forward efficiently.
Leslie A. Silva is a partner in Tully Rinckey PLLC’s Albany office, where she represents individuals in all areas of matrimonial and family law. She has particular experience in high net worth marital litigation. Ms. Silva can be reached at (518) 640-1219 or [email protected]