In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the New York Courts have been essentially closed to any matter except for criminal arraignments, family court custodial issues and residential tenant eviction matters. The Courts prohibited the filing of any new civil matters outside of the two identified exceptions. Commencing on April 13, 2020, the Courts started implementing virtual operations for civil matters not involving family court custodial and residential eviction issues. However, the prohibition in the filing of new matters remained in effect. Governor Cuomo issued two executive orders that tolled the statute of limitations all matters until June 6, 2020. On May 18, in connection with Governor Cuomo’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the Courts in the 30 upstate Counties were allowed to re-open for the filing of new non essential matters (i.e. those matters that were not family court custody issues, criminal arraignments or residential tenant evictions). The upstate Judges and Court Staff were allowed to return to their courthouses. However, the prohibition on new filings remained in effect for the Courts in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester Counties (the downstate Courts). Effective Monday May 25, 2020, new matters will be allowed to be filed through the Court’s E-filing system state wide. Thus, while the in person restrictions have not been lifted for the downstate Courts, litigants will be able to commence new actions, third party actions, and file answers to pending actions.
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