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Update, March 30: 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:

FEDERAL

  • On March 27, 2020, the Southern District of New York entered several standing orders on COVID-19 related issues. These orders:
    • Suspended the conduction of all jury trial until June 1, 2020;
    • Relaxed certain requirements relating to the signature endorsement of certain legal documents; and
    • Suspended a local rule relating to the conduction of judicial business and instituted a substitute procedure for the assignment of judges to criminal cases upon the filing of an indictment of information.
  • On March 27, 2020, Congress enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARE Act”). Among many other things, the CARE Act broadly authorized federal courts to utilize video and telephone conferencing, though only in certain circumstances and with the defendant’s signature in criminal cases.
  • On March 30, 2020, the District of New Jersey entered two standing orders on COVID-19 related issues, which orders recognized and implemented various portions of the CARE Act. Namely, these orders:
    • Deemed appropriate the use of video conferencing and teleconferencing in criminal cases, for certain proceedings and only with the defendant’s consent.
    • Ordered that, with respect to felony plea or sentencing proceedings, in addition to the defendant’s consent, any court seeking to conduct such proceeding by video- or telephone-conference would need to specifically set forth reasons that such proceeding could not be further delayed without “serious harm to the interests of justice”; and
    • Relaxed certain requirements relating to the signature endorsement of certain legal documents.
  • For more information regarding other federal jurisdictions, see our prior posts.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

  • On March 27, 2020, the Supreme Court of New Jersey entered an Omnibus Order on COVID-19 related issues. Among other things, this order:
    • Indefinitely suspended the commencement of new jury trials (civil or criminal);
    • Suspended all Grand Jury empanelment dates until, and canceled all current Grand Jury sessions through, April 26, 2020;
    • Tolled various deadlines applicable to virtually all cases (criminal, civil, special civil, family, and tax) until April 26, 2020, and excluded from the computations of various future deadlines the period of time beginning March 16, 2020, and ending April 26, 2020; and
    • Prescribed that, to the extent practicable, all non-suspended court and other legal proceedings, including depositions, be conducted remotely through April 26, 2020.
  • For more information, see our prior posts.

MUNICIPAL COURTS

  • Per the above-referenced Omnibus Order of the New Jersey Supreme Court, all municipal court sessions are suspended through April 26, 2020.
  • See our prior posts.
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