New York State courts in Buffalo area to enter Phase Two of return Friday

Posted at 4:43 PM, Jun 02, 2020

NEW YORK (WKBW) — Officials from the New York State Court System announced courts in the Eighth Judicial District (Buffalo and surrounding counties) will begin Phase Two of its return to in-person operations Friday.

Courts in the Fifth Judicial District (Syracuse and surrounding counties), Sixth Judicial District (Binghamton and surrounding counties) and Seventh Judicial District (Rochester and surrounding counties) will enter Phase Two on Wednesday.

“As we progress toward fuller in-person court operations across the State, our foremost priority remains protecting the health and safety of all those who work in and visit our court facilities,” said Chief Judge DiFiore.

Over the past two weeks judges and staff throughout the state have been returning to courthouses.

Officials say Phase Two of the in-person return will be to "safely increase courthouse foot traffic in a gradual manner, so that the Court can select matters that require an in-person appearance while continuing to maximize virtual appearances."

The following practices will be followed in Phase Two:

  • Essential family matters will be conducted in-person and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Criminal, juvenile delinquency and mental hygiene law proceedings pertaining to a hospitalized adult will be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Non-essential matters will continue to be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge.
  • Mediation/alternate dispute resolution will be conducted virtually.

Officials will encourage social distancing and reduce the number of people in any given courtroom.

The following Phase One guidelines will continue to be followed:

  • Non-employee court visitors will be required to undergo COVID-19 screening before entering the courthouse.
  • Anyone entering the courthouse will be required to wear a mask.
  • All staff who interact with court visitors must wear a mask.
  • Courtroom and other areas will be carefully marked to ensure proper physical distancing.
  • Court facilities will be regularly sanitized.
  • Installation of acrylic barriers, hand sanitizer dispensers and other safety features.