The Stay at Home Order has been lifted…finally. So now what? As of June 22, 2020 we are able to
- get our hair cut,
- dine outside,
- go to the local pool or park, subject to following certain restrictions,
- attend the outdoor spaces of recreational facilities, entertainment businesses, and public and private social clubs that were previously closed provided they follow certain guidelines,
- participate in youth sports,
- gather indoors at 25% of the room capacity (but no more than 100 people) provided masks are worn and social distancing mandates followed,
- gather outdoors up to 250 people provided social distancing mandates are followed and masks are strongly encouraged.
Soon we hope to go to the mall, dine indoors, go to casinos in Atlantic City, get our nails done and get that tattoo we have been wanting. (Well, some of us anyway…)
So what does that mean for the court system which has been operating virtually since the Stay at Home Order was issued on March 21, 2020? The good news is that the courts have continued most operations and cases remotely. Now it is time to start working our way back into courthouses and resuming operations. In the June 11, 2020 Fourth Omnibus Order the New Jersey Supreme Court continued certain suspensions of court activities and provides updated direction in other areas:
- Jury Trials. Ongoing jury trials suspended during COVID-19 may resume consistent with public health precautions with the consent of all parties;
- Grand Jury. In-person grand jury selection and sessions are suspended but grand juries may convene remotely consistent with the Pilot Program for Virtual Grand Juries, which currently is operating in Bergen and Mercer Counties;
- Landlord/Tenant. (i) Lockouts of residential tenants (evictions) continue to be suspended in accordance with Executive Order 106 (March 19, 2020); (ii) landlord/tenant complaints may continue to be filed with the courts, and new complaints will include an email address for the landlord and to the extent available an email address for the tenant; (iii) the court will schedule conferences, including to obtain or confirm contact information from the parties and conduct settlement negotiations in an effort to resolve matters; and (iv) trials continue to be suspended until further notice;
- Tax Court. All filing deadlines for state tax controversies are extended, but provisions as to local property tax appeals are vacated; and
- Trial Court Filing Deadlines. The computation of time periods under the Rules of Court and under any statute of limitations for matters in all trial divisions of the Superior Court, from the period from March 16, 2020 through May 10, 2020 will not be included in calculating those trial court filing deadlines.
A copy of the Supreme Court’s full “Post Pandemic Plan” can be found here: https://njcourts.gov/notices/2020/n200610b.pdf?c=g7A
In the meantime, what can you, someone who may be seeking a resolution of family matters such as divorce, child support, alimony, child custody and parenting arrangements do? We stand ready to help you expedite the resolution of your matter in a cost-effective manner through mediation and arbitration on a virtual platform, which we have now been using for weeks. Here is an overview of how the process works:
- Once the parties have retained us to mediate or arbitrate their matter and a date has been established, all parties will receive an invitation which provides the date and time, as well as access links to videoconference.
- On the scheduled date and time, counsel and clients will join the videoconference from either a computer, or tablet. After joining, it is important to activate both the video and audio components shown on the screen, as this enables all participants to be seen and heard by everyone else.
- Once all participants have joined the videoconference, we will do what we typically do in an in-person mediation: briefly describe the process, emphasize its confidentiality, etc.
- Following these introductory remarks during mediations or arbitrations, we can then create “breakout rooms” so attorneys and their clients can speak privately at any time during the videoconference. When it is needed, we can re-join the participants for a plenary session with everyone.
Thus, other than the fact that we are connecting “virtually” with the aid of technology, the mediation process works no differently than if we were conferencing face to face.
We hope this explanation of how we have been managing services has been helpful. Most importantly, we hope this finds you and your families well during these difficult and disruptive times.
Check out those services in further detail on our website and then if these sound like the right options for you to resolve your case in a cost-effective, time efficient manner, please call us at (973) 292-9222. We are back working in our offices full-time and ready to serve you on a “Daly” basis, providing some certainty in uncertain times. Our service to you remains in this is our top priority.
Continue to stay safe.