Court Status During COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, State and Federal courts have taken action to limit their activities. The lists below provide a resource of the Orders issued by State and Federal courts in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey affecting the COVID-19 limitations placed on civil matters pending before these courts:

New York State Courts

Generally speaking, New York has significantly curtailed court activities, particularly in civil matters as they are not deemed to be “essential matters.”  The “essential matters” currently being addressed include, for example, limited family court matters, criminal arraignments, and other “emergency” applications in various contexts. As non-essential matters, New York suspended filings in nearly all civil matters (as well as the statute of limitations). And, while the New York courts are beginning to roll out virtual operations and appearances via Skype, these services are aimed at criminal matters and other “essential matters.”  

New York Federal Courts

Unlike New York State courts, the federal courts in New York State continue to function with fewer restrictions on their operations. Although each federal district has issued its own Order(s) concerning COVID-19 related protocols, each district court continues to accept filings in pending civil matters, and continues to issue decisions and orders as appropriate.

Western District of New York

Northern District of New York

Eastern District of New York

Southern District of New York

Pennsylvania State Courts

All Pennsylvania State Courts are generally closed to the public as to non-essential matters from the close of business on March 19, 2020 through at least June 1, 2020. Essential matters are defined by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to include matters such as certain criminal and juvenile delinquency hearings, temporary protection from abuse hearings, emergency petitions for child custody or guardianship, civil mental health reviews, emergency equity civil matters (injunctions and stays), any pleading or motion relating to public health concerns and involving immediate and irreparable harm, election matters, matters credibly labeled as emergency filings, and any other function deemed by a President judge to be essential consistent with constitutional limitations. The use of advanced communication technology to conduct remote court proceedings is authorized and encouraged. Attorneys are encouraged to conduct depositions by telephone or videoconference and discouraged from using the public health emergency to delay matters. The Courts maintain the expectation that all non-essential matters should continue to move forward so long as all parties can act in conformity with the orders and guidance issued by the executive branch.  

In Pennsylvania, each county serves a judicial district. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has authorized the president judges of each district, as well as the president judges of the Superior and Commonwealth Courts to promulgate their own rules and procedures in light of the pandemic, including but not limited to suspending deadlines, authorizing advanced communication technology, continuing cases, cancelling hearings, and directing the submissions of cases for merits consideration based upon the briefs.  Certain judicial districts, including Philadelphia, have entered Orders directing that civil pre-trial practice, including depositions and other discovery, shall continue to the extent practicable in a manner consistent with government suggested and mandated social distancing guidelines and that no party shall use the current health crisis for an advantage in the discovery process or in the litigation generally.  

The most up to date information including updates regarding county by county court operations and proceedings can be found at http://www.pacourts.us/ujs-coronavirus-information.

Pennsylvania Federal Courts

The three Federal District Courts of Pennsylvania are all open for business, but access to the courthouses are limited. The Courts are utilizing technology to conduct some hearings and other proceedings. Each District Court is requiring parties to electronically file all case-related documents that are able to be filed electronically.  

Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Western District of Pennsylvania

Middle District of Pennsylvania  

New Jersey State Courts

Aside from extremely limited emergent matters, the state courts in New Jersey have halted any in person proceedings. The Courts are encouraging as many matters as possible, including case management conferences, motions, and hearings, to be handled by telephonic or video conferencing technology. Certain court proceedings are being live-streamed. For the court events that are not live-streamed, interested persons may request real-time access to observe those proceedings. Civil arbitrations (by video and/or telephone conference) were allowed to resume on resume April 27, 2020. Municipal court sessions will resume on May 11, 2020 by video or phone, when possible. Attorney disciplinary hearings and fee arbitrations will resume on May 11, 2020. The Courts encourage depositions to take place remotely and court reporters are authorized to administer and accept oaths remotely. The Rules requiring original signatures have been relaxed and supplemented so as to permit electronic signatures to be used in all temporary filing processes. Most discovery deadlines in Civil matters generally are extended through May 10, 2020. In the computation of time periods under the Rules of Court and under any statute of limitations, the period from March 16 through May 20, 2020 shall be deemed the same as a legal holiday. All NJ state court COVID-19 updates can be found at: https://njcourts.gov/public/covid19.html.

New Jersey Federal Court – District Court of New Jersey

The District Court of New Jersey has continued all civil and criminal jury selections and trials through at least May 31, 2020. The filing and discovery deadlines have been extended as well. The District Court has not tolled or extended statutes of limitation. The Court is encouraging its judicial officers to conduct proceedings by telephone or video conferencing. ADR neutrals have been authorized to permit participation in any ADR proceeding by video or telephone conferencing technology.