MenuClose

COVID-19 in New York: Essential Business, Law Firms, and State and Federal Courts

March 24, 2020


Greetings from New York, the “city that never sleeps”, where we are trying to maintain some sense of normalcy while keeping our social distance.  It has not been easy.  The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly impacted not only our daily lives, but also New York businesses, law firms, and courts.  New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a “New York State on PAUSE” executive order requiring all non-essential businesses to close their doors.  The state and federal courts in New York also restricted their operations.  We do not know when these mandates will end and when we might return to normal.  Nevertheless, the New York lawyers at Montgomery McCracken remain ready, willing, and able to help you at any time, day or night.

Essential Business in New York 

Governor Cuomo issued a “New York State on PAUSE” executive order on Friday, March 20th.  The purpose of the order is to decelerate the outbreak by limiting close personal contact.  Only “essential” businesses like some healthcare providers, transportation services, manufacturing facilities, and retail stores may keep their doors open for their employees and the public.  Non-essential businesses like restaurants, auditoriums, and gymnasiums must close their doors, though restaurants may continue to operate for takeout and delivery.

Any business may request designation as an “essential” business.  The New York State Department of Economic Development d/b/a Empire State Development will make that determination.  For example, any business that is necessary to support an “essential” business may also be designated an “essential” business.  Law firms like Montgomery McCracken are “essential” to the extent they necessarily support other essential businesses and, as will be explained further below, represent criminal defendants or other litigants seeking emergency relief.  Montgomery McCracken can also help a business request an “essential” designation. Please see our colleagues alerts for more information:

State and Federal Courts in New York 

State and federal courthouses in New York are restricting access (e.g., banning those who have been diagnosed with the virus or have been in close personal contact with others diagnosed with the virus) and otherwise remain open only for essential functions.  For example, New York State Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks restricted the state’s in-court operations to some criminal, family, housing, and emergency matters which, to the extent possible, are being conducted by teleconference and videoconference.  By executive order dated March 20th, Governor Cuomo tolled the statutes of limitation for civil matters from the date of the executive order until April 19th.  Consistent with the Governor’s executive order suspending statutes of limitation in legal matters, the Chief Administrative Judge has directed that 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.  This directive applies to both paper and electronic filings.

Federal courthouses in New York, like the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York as well as the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, are restricting access and otherwise remain open only for essential functions.  For example, federal courts are generally limiting in-court appearances to some criminal and emergency matters which, to the extent possible, are being conducted by teleconference and videoconference.  Those federal courts are continuing to accept electronically filed pleadings in civil matters as usual.  Notably, many district judges and bankruptcy judges have amended their individual practices and rules to adjust to these changes.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is continuing to accept electronically filed pleadings.  However, as of March 23rd, it is conducting oral arguments only by telephone.

Montgomery McCracken in New York

We do not know when or under what circumstances New York—our home—might return to normal.  Circumstances keep changing.  Estimates range from weeks to months.  Montgomery McCracken’s New York lawyers are settling into our new “work from home” routines and hoping for the best. Montgomery McCracken’s COVID-19 Resource Center is available here. We remain ready, willing, and able to help you at any time, day or night.

March 25, 2020 – UPDATE: The states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania are also restricting non-essential business.  However, “maritime transportation workers like port workers, mariners, equipment operators, and maintenance and repairmen are designated “essential.”

Montgomery McCracken attorneys are available to assist clients with numerous issues related to COVID-19. Montgomery McCracken’s COVID-19 Resource Center is available here.