LIEB BLOG

Legal Media Analysts

Showing posts with label lawyer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lawyer. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

New York Courts Opens Electronic Filing of New Non-Essential Matters

Beginning May 25, 2020, litigants will finally be able to commence new actions. The acceptance of electronic filing for new non-essential matters represents the clearing of the the penultimate hurdle for the court system's remote operations. In effect, trials and hearings are the only civil court operations still on hold. Judge Marks May 20, 2020 memorandum can be found, HERE

It is important to remember that this memorandum does not supersede the Governor's executive orders which restrict certain actions, such as residential evictions, which may still be barred. 


Thursday, April 09, 2020

New York State Courts Release Reopening Details

As expected, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks has issued a new administrative order detailing the first stage of court operations for nonessential matters. A full copy of the order can be read HERE.

      1. Judges will commit themselves to deciding fully submitted motions in pending cases. 
      2. Judges will examine their dockets to find matters through which video conferencing can be helpful in resolving the matter. Parties may request a similar conference, where appropriate.
      3. Judges may conduct discovery and other ad hoc conferences to resolve disputes which should not require the filing of motion papers.

The Order also contains an important clarification and limitation: litigants may NOT file any new nonessential matters, and parties may NOT file any additional (new) papers in any pending nonessential matters.

This means no new motions, no new answers, no motion opposition papers, etc. Previous orders tolling deadlines in those matters still control. Currently deadlines are tolled by executive order of Governor Cuomo through May 7, 2020

Expect expansion of the courts' capabilities and filings in the near future after successful implementation of this phase.

Reminder that federal courts are still open and capable for accepting new matters and Lieb at Law attorneys are still litigating where court intervention is not needed. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

New York State Courts Are Reopening for Non-Essential Matters

New York State courts are reopening.

On April 7, 2020 Judge Marks issued a memorandum to all trial court justices and judges outlining his plan for reopening the trial courts to non-essential matters beginning on Monday April 13, 2020. A full copy of the memorandum can be found HERE.

Judge Marks' April 7, 2020 memorandum states:

Going forward, the existing prohibition on the filing of new non-essential matters will continue. However, although our planning is ongoing, starting next Monday, April 13, we will take certain preliminary steps to open up access - remote access - to the courts for non-essential pending cases. This means that judges should review their case inventories to identify cases in which court conferences can be helpful in advancing the progress of the case, including achieving a resolution of the case. Judges can also schedule conferences at the request of the attorneys, and can be available during normal court hours to address discovery disputes and other ad hoc concerns. The conferences will need to be conducted remotely, by Skype or by telephone. Judges' personal staff will be able to assist judges remotely, as needed.

New York State courts have been closed to non-essential matters since March 22, 2020 when Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued Administrative Order 78/20, which we blogged about HERE.


What will change on Monday, April 13?
Immediately, it appears that the courts are finding success in their remote operations for essential matters are looking to expand those capabilities to non-essential matters which make up the bulk of the caseload in the trial courts. Not only does the memorandum permit judges to conduct remote conferences on cases that are already pending before them, it encourages them to do so. Judges can schedule conferences and parties can request them as well.

The memorandum advises judges to examine their calendars, prioritize cases that will benefit from conferences, decide pending motions to clear backlogs, and to reduce their dockets while there are no new filings.

The big takeaway is that judges' chambers will be staffed and operational - conducting conferences and resolving motions to help clear their dockets. Your pending lawsuits are no longer frozen and progress will be made.


What don't we know?
There are some key limitations in this memorandum that cannot be overlooked:

Going forward, the existing prohibition on the filing of new non-essential matters will continue.

It is clear that as of now, you cannot commence a new action in NYS courts (you can commence a new action in the Federal courts). That means no new lawsuits in NYS courts. It is not clear, however, if that means you can file new papers on pending actions. For instance, it is unclear if you are permitted to file a new motion on a pending action, or even an answer to a complaint that was already filed and served. For now, existing administrative and executive orders tolling time limitations still control.


What to expect going forward.
Judge Marks realizes that a total freeze on court operations is unnecessary. While in-person appearances in a judge's courtroom or chambers are sometimes necessary for a civil matter in the Supreme Court, it is rarely mandatory. Remote conferences can handle most preliminary conferences, discovery disputes, and status conferences. In-person appearances are unnecessary to resolve most motions, and oral argument can be conducted over Skype, Zoom, etc. Civil parts in the Supreme Court can operate at nearly 100% capacity without opening their doors to the bar. 

I expect Judge Marks to reopen the civil parts of the Supreme Court in stages, gradually increasing their capacity until everything except trials can move forward while the rest of the country remains closed due to COVID-19. 

Courts that heavily rely upon in-person appearances, such as landlord-tenant court and the housing court, will be slower to reopen, but those actions are stayed anyway so there is less emphasis on figuring out remote operations for those parts. 

Look for continuing guidance from Judge Marks and local administrative Judges later this week and early next week.


Can any of this become permanent?
It is no secret that it is exceptionally difficult to force large institutions to adopt opportunities presented by advances in technology. For example, even though we have electronic filing, attorneys still need to appear in person to file physical motion papers in some courts that are too stubborn to change their old procedures. Even though some states permit telephone conferences, some courts in New York force attorneys to appear in their courtroom just to tell the judge that they are on schedule with their discovery and don't need any help from the court. That is a waste of time, money, and the courts' limited resources.

Perhaps the changes forced by COVID-19 will open the courts' eyes to the increased efficiency and productivity that technology can bring to our stubborn industry. Listen to our podcast about the future of the courts HERE - Court System is Archaic | Modernization Needed ASAP.



Monday, March 23, 2020

County Clerks and Court Clerks Forbidden From Accepting Filings

The Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts has issued an order forbidding the filing of all non-essential papers in county clerks and court clerks. This order is statewide and will have far-reaching consequences.

The Order, a copy of which can be found HERE, states:

Pursuant to the authority vested in me, in light of the emergency circumstances caused by the continuing COVID-19 outbreak in New York State and the nation, and consistent with the Governor of New York's recent executive order suspending statues of limitation in legal matters, I direct that, effective immediately and until further order, no papers shall be accepted for filing by a county clerk or a court in any matter of a type not included on the list of essential matters attached as Exh. A. This directive applies to both paper and electronic filings.

Follow the link above to find a list of essential matters, most of which focus on the protection of the life, safety, and well-being of people.

The consequences of this Order are profound. For example, the Suffolk County and Nassau County clerks were both operating on a limited basis, but were still operating. The State's electronic court filing system was still accepting filings which enabled parties to continue litigating so long as it didn't require judicial intervention. New York County's online recording system, ACRIS, was still accepting electronic filings. Based on the wording of this Order, all of that ends today.

Despite this Order, Lieb at Law will proceed with our litigation matters to the maximum extent possible - as long as it doesn't require judicial intervention, we will push forward.

Look for a blog from Steven Siliato later today detailing the effects this Order will have on real estate transactions. Title examination? Race notice recording? GAP title insurance?



Governor Cuomo Issues Statewide Moratorium on Commercial and Residential Evictions and Foreclosures

Governor Cuomo has consolidated the patchwork of local foreclosure and eviction laws bubbling up in the wake of the COVID-19 quarantines - and it's a big one.

There shall be no enforcement of either an an eviction of any tenant, residential or commercial, or a foreclosure of any residential or commercial property for a period of ninety days. 

Ninety days from the date of the Order puts us out to June 18, 2020.

One noteworthy aspect of this Order is its application to both residential and commercial properties. 

It is vital to note, however, that this does not mean you cannot be in default of your rent or mortgage for the ninety day period. It simply states that there shall be no enforcement of evictions or foreclosures. If you are delinquent on your rent or mortgage during the term of this order, your landlord or lender could commence an eviction or foreclosure proceeding after the order expires. 

The interplay of this Executive Order with Executive Order 202.9 (see our prior blog about that, here) creates an opportunity for borrowers to leverage a forbearance with their lender ensuring that they are not delinquent on their mortgage on June 18, 2020. 


Saturday, March 21, 2020

NYS Mortgage Relief Plans Becomes Clearer, BUT Not Enough

On March 21, 2020, the Governor issued NYS Executive Order 202.9, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:
Subdivision two of Section 39 of the Banking Law is hereby modified to provide that it shall be deemed an unsafe and unsound business practice if, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, any bank which is subject to the jurisdiction of the Department shall not grant a forbearance to any person or business who has a financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic for a period of ninety days... The Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services shall ensure under reasonable and prudent circumstances that any licensed or regulated entities provide to any consumer in the State of New York an opportunity for a forbearance of payments for a mortgage for any person or entity facing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Superintendent shall promulgate emergency regulations to require that the application for such forbearance be made widely available for consumers, and such application shall be granted in all reasonable and prudent circumstances solely for the period of such emergency. 
While a cursory reading shows that mortgage help is on the way, many uncertainties remain, including:

  • What does subject to the jurisdiction of the Department mean in the Order? Specifically, there are two charting systems for banks; federal and state. The Federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency controls federally chartered banks pursuant to the National Bank Act. Generally, you can tell that a bank is federally chartered because it has the initials N.A. after its name. As a result, NYS doesn't have jurisdiction over federally chartered banks so how does this work if you have a loan through a federal bank like many NYS residents do?
  • When is the Superintendent promulgating emergency regulations and how are consumers going to understand those regulations if attorneys at law were not labeled as essential services under the quarantine and therefore are becoming less available by the minute? Yes, some law firms are open and working remotely, but for how long with many clerks' offices closed and all court deadlines tolled (yesterday's Executive Order 202.8), including "any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding."
  • By adding the words business & entity, is it intended that this applies to both residential and commercial property?
  • Is there a limit on the amount of the mortgage for this to be applicable?
  • After the forbearance is over, what happens to the money deferred (i.e., back end balloon, recapitalized, ballooned immediately, something else)?
  • Will the Superintendent of DFS be answering these questions or someone else; plus, will the answers be part of a regulation or just advisory? 
Please don't misunderstand this post. We 100% support the quarantine and also support the forbearance. Instead, this blog is designed to prevent further hardship to the vulnerable who take a leap of faith on their mortgage without first researching facts.

Get facts before you act and the facts aren't out yet - so, CONTINUE PAYING YOUR MORTGAGE for now.