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Update, April 2: Courts and Law Enforcement Respond to Coronavirus


In light of the national emergency due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), courts and law enforcement agencies at every level of Government have taken extraordinary actions:


  • The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey has expanded the use of electronic signatures. Under Standing Order 20-07, where a judge finds it impracticable or imprudent to obtain an actual signature, any document may be signed electronically; where a criminal defendant's signature is required, defense counsel or a presiding judge may sign on the defendant's behalf if the defendant consents after having an opportunity to consult with counsel; and where a defendant’s consent is not explicitly required in writing under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, consent may be obtained in any form, so long as clearly reflected in the record.
  • For more information regarding other federal jurisdictions, see our prior posts.


  • The New Jersey Supreme Court has relaxed rules governing the application for and issuance of search warrants and communication data warrants. An Order signed April 1 removes Rule 3:5-3’s requirement that an applicant for a search warrant appear personally or even telephonically to provide sworn verbal testimony to a judge, who must record the testimony. The Order permits applicants to submit the application electronically with the addition of a certification in lieu of oath pursuant to Rule 1:4-4(b). The judge may then issue the warrant electronically. The Order also suspends Rules 3:5-3, -5, and -6’s requirements that the applicant return the executed warrant and inventory of items seized to the issuing judge, who then must file the documents with the Criminal Division Manager’s office. Under the Order, the executed warrant and inventory are to be retained by the County Prosecutor’s Office, who is to comply with a request for a copy of the inventory pursuant to Rule 3:5-5(a) and to provide search warrant material to the defendant as part of discovery under Rule 3:13-3. The Administrative Office of the Courts has directed that only Superior Court judges and not municipal court judges shall consider such applications under the new Order. The application process for blood-draw warrants, which is conducted telephonically and not with a personal appearance, is unaffected by the Order and may be conducted by municipal court judges.
  • For more information, see our prior posts.


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