There have been numerous and rapidly evolving updates to our court system throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The most important things for our clients to know include the following:
- The courts are handling in-person hearings only for Priority-1 matters. That means, for our work, that in-person evidentiary hearings (hearings involving testimony or evidence) are limited to emergency issues and restraining order applications.
- The courts are moving toward handling an increasing number of issues remotely. We are now having regular video status conferences and pretrials with judges from our offices. The courts are also testing out limited video hearings for legal arguments and shorter hearings with limited testimony. We expect this functionality to grow rapidly as the courts continue to grapple with access to justice while limiting risk to employees and the public. The future will include trial by video conference and we are equipped with the technology and knowledge necessary to effectively advocate on such platforms.
- The courts are handling an increasing amount of issues without hearings. Divorces in cases with settlements can proceed to final judgment without a hearing with the appropriate paperwork. Other agreements and certain legal issues are being resolved without hearings.
In summary: Notwithstanding the substantial interruption, we are still able to start new cases, file motions to preserve our client’s rights, resolve discovery issues, enter into settlement conferences, settle and finalize cases, file and argue emergency motions and restraining order applications, and take numerous other steps to protect our clients’ rights and interests. Our clients should contact us with any questions about issues as they arise.