Courts will go virtual in many Central New York counties this week

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — Due to COVID-19, a “virtual court” model was implemented in New York City’s Criminal Court and Family Court last week, and now the new court model is headed to Central New York.

According to a press release from New York State’s Unified Court System, virtual court operations will begin this week in Central New York’s Fifth Judicial District; the Rochester area’s Seventh Judicial District; and Suffolk County’s District Court and County Court.

“By minimizing person-to-person contact, the virtual courthouse model enables us to serve the pressing justice needs of New Yorkers across the State while protecting the health and safety of our judges and staff, court users and the public,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Vito Caruso.

Fifth Judicial District (Herkimer, Lewis, Jefferson, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego counties)

In order to reduce courthouse traffic while continuing to handle the essential legal needs of New Yorkers served by the district, Administrative Judge James P. Murphy signed an Administrative Order establishing virtual court operations, effective at 8:30 a.m. on March 30, 2020.

According to the release, in all essential court proceedings, going forward, the judge, court reporters, parties, their attorneys and any other interested party, will not be physically present in the courtroom. A Court Clerk will manage the technology from the courtroom to facilitate the virtual court proceeding.

A minimal core team of essential staff will remain at each courthouse to ensure the ability to intake papers, operate video conferencing equipment, process orders, keep court record, answer telephones and conduct other essential court functions.

Individuals with court-related questions are encouraged to call the Fifth Judicial District’s COVID Emergency line at 315-671-4699 (for Oneida County only, call 315-266-4599). Contact information, as well as information related to Administrative Orders and postponements, for the Fifth Judicial District can be found here.

Seventh Judicial District (Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates counties.)

According to the release, virtual court operations for essential and emergency matters in the Seventh Judicial District will commence via video conferencing on Monday, March 30, 2020.

An amendment to the District Administrative Judge’s order that required each county’s court operations to be consolidated in one building allows judges, defendants/litigants, attorneys and some court staff to appear by video conferencing capability.

Judges will preside remotely to hear arraignments, applications for Temporary Orders of Protection, time-served pleas from the jail and any other essential applications.

A minimal core team of essential staff will remain at each courthouse to ensure the ability to intake papers, operate video conferencing equipment, process orders, keep court record, answer telephones and conduct other essential court functions.

Individuals with court-related questions are encouraged to call their designated county courthouse. Contact information, as well as information related to postponements, is available online for all courthouses in the 7th Judicial District here.


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