As the world continues to adjust to our new normal in the age of COVID, the court is forced to do the same. Here are new updated court procedures from Administrative Judge Kim Eaton and the Court Relations Committee.
Judge Howsie. In light of the tragic loss of the Honorable Judge Zottola, Judge Howsie will be temporarily heading to the Criminal Division. For those with cases assigned to Judge Howise, he will have limited time available to handle trials, conciliations, and other proceedings. If his docket does not fit with his new schedule, the cases will be reassigned to a new judge. The court is hopeful that these cases will be handled within the same time frame as was originally scheduled with Judge Howsie.
Family Law Center. The Court has begun to send out orders scheduling proceedings in January 2021 in order to avoid a scheduling bottleneck. Until further notice, all scheduled matters will be conducted exclusively through Microsoft teams - except for temporary PFAs hearings and very select hearings which will be held in person. The "Judicial Emergency" proclamation which provides for remote hearings is scheduled to elapse in January 2021. But, it is likely that the Judicial Emergency will be extended beyond January. For now, please stay home and stay safe!
For those clients worried about working with Teams and this new technology, we are here to help guide you through the process and make you feel more comfortable prior to any virtual matters.
Procedural Updates. COVID has created some unprecedented situations in the courthouse. The Court Relations Committee has recently clarified some of these issues.
- For support matters, the date of retroactivity for the complaint and modifications will go back to the date of filing, NOT the date of the scheduling order.
- The support department has implemented a response procedure so that attorneys can confirm that their contact information has been updated in the system. These efforts are to ensure that parties are properly and timely notified of any proceedings.
- While the world seemed to slow down, the work did not. Judges are working as efficiently as they can and are turning around decisions as fast as they can. If parties have any questions regarding decisions, it is recommended that the ask their attorney to follow up with the Judge’s chambers directly. The same applies to Motions for consideration. Attorneys are advised to check each respective Judge’s Standard Operating Procedures so that filings do not get lost in the Judge's in-box. .
- Under COVID procedure, attorneys who presented a motion remotely must give the other side seven days to respond with an "Answer". However, attorneys can no longer respond to an Answer. The exception being if the Answer contains a "New Matter". It an Attorney would like to respond to a New Matter, they are advised to notify the judge’s chambers of their intention to respond. However, responses need to be produced quickly so that they do not miss their opportunity prior to the Judge ruling. If for some reason they are unable to file in time, the Attorney may file a Motion for Reconsideration. However, best practice is to be transparent and timely about intentions with the Court..