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Doran issues plan for court operations

The centralized arraignment part (CAP) in the lobby of the Ontario County Sheriff's Office. This lobby area had already been converted to serve as a makeshift courtroom for around the clock arraignments in Ontario County. Now it will serve as the courtroom for all Town and Village Court cases that are not postponed because of the special order suspending most cases until at least April 30. (Bennett Loudon)

The centralized arraignment part (CAP) in the lobby of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office. This lobby area had already been converted to serve as a makeshift courtroom for around the clock arraignments in Ontario County. Now it will serve as the courtroom for all Town and Village Court cases that are not postponed because of the special order suspending most cases until at least April 30. (Bennett Loudon)

State Supreme Court Justice Craig Doran, administration judge for the Seventh Judicial District, has issued a detailed plan for court operations implemented to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Court officials are emphasizing that non-essential court functions have been postponed, but court is not closed.

All courts, statewide, are consolidating essential operations into one building in each county. All matters will be heard by designated judges.

Doran’s order lays out court procedures that will be in place until further notice in the Seventh Judicial District, which includes the counties of Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates.

Attorneys should check their email frequently to stay updated on any changes to the plan.

Under Doran’s order, “assigned judges” are judges assigned to hear a case on or before Monday, March 16. A  “designated judge” is the judge assigned to hear a case under Doran’s new order. “Essential staff” refers to the staff of designated judges.

Only designated judges and essential staff will report for work.

While the order is in place: No eviction orders will be signed; no default judgments will be granted; no foreclosure auctions will be held.

The maximum occupancy of courtrooms, waiting rooms and meeting rooms in court facilities is now 30 people, or half the posted room occupancy, whichever is less. Court calendars and appearances will be staggered to comply with room occupancy requirements.

All non-essential matters are adjourned until at least April 30, but civil trials that have started can continue. Essential civil matters that may be addressed while Doran’s order is in place include: Article 81 guardianship cases, Mental Hygiene Law applications, orders to show cause, extreme risk protection orders, applications for orders of protection, and isolation and quarantine matters.

All temporary orders of protection will be extended 90 days, unless an emergency application is made.

A sign on the door of the Hopewell Town Hall in Ontario County tells visitors that the Town Court will be closed at least until May 4. (Bennett Loudon)

A sign on the door of the Hopewell Town Hall in Ontario County tells visitors that the Town Court will be closed at least until May 4. (Bennett Loudon)

Any criminal trial where the jury has been sworn will continue. But all non-essential matters are adjourned until at least April 30 for defendants not in custody, or at least April 15 for cases where defendants are in custody.

Essential criminal matters will include arraignments, and new or extended orders of protection.

Already seated grand juries will continue until the expiration of their terms. After the end of a grand jury term, the district attorney can apply to impanel a new grand jury.

Treatment courts, including opioid courts, will be handled by the designated city court judge or the designated county court judge in counties with no city court.

Treatment courts will continue with appearances deemed essential by the designated judge in consultation with the coordinating judge of treatment courts and the administrative judge.

All non-essential family court matters are adjourned until at least April 30. Essential matters in family court will include urgent juvenile delinquency proceedings, child protective proceedings where there is an imminent risk of harm to a child, and emergency support matters.

All non-essential matters in town and village courts are adjourned until at least April 30.

Immediate arraignments for town and village courts that occur during the day will take place at the designated county courthouse by the designated county court judge. After-hours arraignments will be heard by the centralized arraignment part (CAP) judge in counties with a CAP court.

bloudon@bridgetowermedia.com