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Bronx Surrogate's Court Update - July 2021

SURROGATE'S COURT UPDATE

We met with the Surrogate Judge Malave-Gonzalez and her staff last week to discuss Court operations.  We learned that since December the Surrogate’s Court has lost 14 staff due to retirement and they have yet to be replaced.  The Court is striving to do more with much less and we are appreciative of all their efforts and hard work throughout the pandemic.

Since June/July 2020 the Court has been holding virtual calendars staggered in 15 minute intervals, they have been handling service orders, citations, motions and hearings throughout.  Attorney referees have been conducting off calendar conferences and they are using ADR to resolve many issues. The Court intends to expand these calendar to include in person appearances in addition to remote appearances.  If you are scheduled for an appearance please be mindful of the Court’s limited time; appear on time, appropriately attired and with knowledge about the matter for which you are appearing.

The Court requires all papers to be E-Filed.  If your papers require original documents (i.e. death certificate, et al.) you must still E-File and originals must be dropped off, in person or mailed to the Court.  The Court’s offices on the 3rd floor are open to attorneys and the public.  The drop off basket has been relocated to the 3rd floor where a Court officer is stationed to accept all papers.  If you choose to mail documents the address is:

Bronx Surrogate’s Court
851 Grand Concourse
Room 317
Bronx, NY 10451-2937

Do NOT simply address your mailing to the Bronx Courthouse, it must specifically be addressed to the Surrogate’s Court.

If you need guidance from a certain department, we urge you to email and/or make an appointment before going to the Courthouse.  Below you will find the various emails for each department.  Emailing is your best option at this time, as the staff is extremely limited and cannot always answer the phone.

If you have asked for papers to be returned please be sure to include sufficient postage on your return envelope.  The Court does not have the means to provide additional postage.  Alternatively you can pick up your documents from the basket on the 3rd floor designated for pick up.

To ensure that your application is processed as expeditiously as possible we urge you to carefully review your submission before filing, simple mistakes are being made and overlooked which leads to delays.

For additional information you can visit the Bronx Surrogate’s Court website at http://ww2.nycourts.gov/COURTS/12jd/BRONX/Surrogates/index.shtml.  Please check back as the Court is continuing to update information. 

Email addresses:

A)     Accounting & Miscellaneous Department

a.      BronxSurr-AcctgMisc@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-2375

B)     Administration Department

a.      BronxSurr-Administration@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-2370

C)      Cashier Department

a.      BronxSurr-Cashier@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-2396

D)     Guardianship Department

a.      BronxSurr-Guardianship@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-2380

E)      Help Center Department

a.      bxsurrhelpctr@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-1722

F)      Law Department

a.      BronxSurr-LawDept@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-2320

G)     Probate Department

a.      BronxSurr-Probate@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-2365

H)     Record Room Department

a.      BronxSurr-RecordRoom@nycourts.gov

b.      Phone number:  (718) 618-2395 (Call to setup walk in appointments)

I)        Voluntary & Smalls Estates Department

a.      BronxSurr-SmallEstates@nycourts.gov

b.      (718) 618-2309 

As always, if you have any questions please reach out to us at bronxbar1@gmail.com.


Civil Courts Committee Update

The Civil Courts Committee recently met with Administrative Judge Gonzalez.  

We would like to acknowledge and thank Judge Gonzalez for her continued tireless and extraordinary leadership during this time.  As our world is constantly changing and evolving, Judge Gonzalez has been in the courthouse making every effort to keep the wheels turning.  We are appreciative of her efforts along with all the Judges and courthouse staff! 

Attached here is the most up to date Judge Assignments.  You will note that we welcome back Judge Barbato and Johnson.  Judge Barbato has taken up the Motor Vehicle Part previously held by Judge Brigantti.  Judge Brigantti has moved to Part 25 (previously held by Judge Rosado) and Judge Rosado is in the IDV Part.  Judge Johnson is handling family custody hearings as well as some guardianship and hospital hearings.

We are fortunate that newly appointed Court of Claims Judge, Judge Alicia Gerez will be sitting in the Bronx.  

Judge Gonzalez has taken over Part 34, which was recently vacated by Judge Higgitt when he left for the Appellate Division.  She and her staff are handling all motions and conferences.  If you need a conference, please contact Judge Gonzalez through Ray Fernandez.  Any orders can also be emailed to Ray Fernandez at rfernandez@nycourts.gov.

E-Filing: Bronx is an E-File jurisdiction.  ALL cases must be E-filed.  Lawyers and service will be turned away if they show up at the Courthouse to physically file papers.  If your case(s) has not been converted to E-Filing, please take steps to make the conversion ASAP.  If necessary, Judge Gonzalez will sign an order for conversion; simply fax her a letter requesting it.

In Person Appearances: Last week, Judges Gonzalez and Silver had in person blockbuster settlement conference calendars Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  The calendars staggered appearances giving each case approximately 30 minutes of the Judge’s undivided time.  The results were excellent and the Court intends to conduct more in person conferences. We cannot stress enough that attorneys who appear MUST be fully familiar with the case; i.e., they must be prepared and have authority to discuss settlement.  The time and format does not allow for time to be wasted by making calls to your office or to the handling attorney. Time is limited and should be used wisely.

In the coming weeks there will be more in person conferences.  This week and next, Judge Danziger will be holding in person conferences with the City and Transit Authority.  Judge Capella will be holding conferences in his medical malpractice part in addition to the in person calendars of Judges Silver and Gonzalez.

Judge Gonzalez’s in person STP calendars will be starting with the oldest cases.  To that end, the Court is increasing its trial capacity.  If settlement or agreed upon ADR cannot be reached, you will be given a trial date.  PLEASE come fully prepared and do not waste precious judicial resources. In the future, there may be the opportunity to arbitrate cases before Bronx Judges trained to conduct the same with the goal of resolving more cases.

Judges Silver and Gonzalez continue to hold blockbuster calendars with GEICO, American Transit and NYCHA.  If you receive notice of an appearance on a blockbuster calendar BE PREPARED.  These appearances are not a waste of time, settlement is possible and highly likely if you come prepared and ready to talk.  The fact that discovery is not completed is not an excuse to refuse participation in a settlement conference. Do not waste the opportunity. 

We would like to remind everyone that although much of what we are doing at the moment is virtual, please be on time, look appropriate and give the Court the dignity it deserves (for example, ditch polo shirts).

By and large pre-note cases will continue to be held virtually; however, it is within each Judge’s discretion whether to hold an in person conference.  

If you have a case ready for trial simply advise Judge Gonzalez and you will get a trial date.

Since January 2021, the Bronx has had 34 trials, 10 of those jury trials; bench trials and settlements are up 12%.  Going forward, podiatric and dental malpractice cases may be subject to  a 325(d) transfer to Civil Court, where more trials will be held.

Surrogate's Court: Surrogate's Court is now fully open; there are no more bins at the entrance of the courthouse. 

Attorney Cards: As previously circulated, there is a new mask policy in the courthouse.  If you are fully vaccinated and do not want to wait in line when you are entering the building, you must obtain a specific green pass that you wear around your neck at ALL times while in the building. You’ll need your valid attorney pass and vaccination card to apply for the pass; it cannot be done online. It must be done in person either at the entrance or in the operations office on the first floor. Note that court staff and Judges will be wearing an orange pass around their necks to show they have been fully vaccinated. At this time every entrance to the courthouse is open.

Lastly, we would like to remind our membership that the BCBA is working hard to keep members up to date with the constant changes in the courthouse.  If you need to reach us while the library is still closed, please email us at bronxbar1@gmail.com.  Along similar lines, please visit us at www.bronxbar.com for all the latest events, which include the Annual Boat Trip on August 5th, the Golf & Tennis outing at Ardsley Country Club on September 20th, and our Annual Installation Gala on October 7th at Marina Del Rey. 

We hope you have an enjoyable rest of summer and look forward to seeing each other soon!

 


Don't miss out on the Boat Trip!

 

Register today before it's sold out!!
BCBA Annual Boat Trip
To reserve, visit us at www.bronxbar.com

If you have any questions please email us at bronxbar1@gmail.com


IMPORTANT - Revised Mask Policy

UPDATE FOR ENTRY TO COURTHOUSE - EFFECTIVE TODAY

The Unified Court System will now issue passes to fully vaccinated attorneys, agency personnel and all other court users who can provide proof of vaccination, permitting them to enter the court facilities without completing a health safety screening and without wearing a mask or face covering.  Further details about how this will impact the Bronx Courthouse will be provided.  Read HERE for the full policy.

 

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Update: Part 25 Rules & Expansion of E-Filing

UPDATE

Attached here are Judge Brigantti’s new rules reflecting the Judge’s new assignment (IA-25, formally assigned to Judge Rosado) and contains a notice to litigants regarding MVA-related stipulations and conference requests.  Please read carefully before reaching out to the Part with questions.

Read here regarding Preliminary Notification of Intent to Request Expansion of the E-Filing Program in the NYC Civil Court.

 

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Remote Notarization Expires Today 5 pm

UPDATE

Governor Cuomo announced that New York's COVID state of emergency will expire today and not be renewed.  While the legislature passed legislation to make remote notarization permenant, the bill is not yet law.  Therefore, as of 5 pm TODAY, June 24th remote notarization is no longer permissible in New York.

 

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Court example with Sponsor

 

 

 


IMPORTANT: Microsoft Teams Link Trumps ELaw Date

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ

MICROSOFT TEAMS CONFERENCES

A Microsoft Teams link from any Judge/Part and the related details (date & time) overrides any ELaw date.

Please do not call the Judge or Part asking if the ELaw date is for a conference, at this time it is not.

Do NOT rely on ELaw for conference dates.  Presently, ELaw dates are for control/administrative purposes only.  Until the Courthouse reopens for in person operations, ONLY Microsoft Teams links are to be considered "real" dates and you should appear accordingly.

The only way to obtain a Microsoft Teams link for a conference is to request per the Judge’s part rules or your adversary has made the request.  As a reminder, when requesting any conference be certain to include email contact for all parties. 

All Judge/Part rules we have received to date can be found here.

 

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IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING MAJOR CHANGES TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW IN COURTS
Pursuant to Administrative Order 270/20effective Feb. 1, 2021, Chief Administrative Judge Larry Marks has incorporated many Commercial Division Rules into the Uniform Rules for the Supreme Court and County Court. These additions and amendments to the existing Uniform Rules affect appearances, conferences, communications with the court, filing of papers, discovery, interrogatories, privilege logs, depositions, TROs, orders to show cause, motions, oral argument, and trial and pretrial practice. 
 
We have highlighted a few of the important changes below, but encourage you to read the full Administrative Order:
 
- Appearance Counsel MUST have knowledge and authority of the case (Exhibit A)
- Interrogatories LIMITED to 25 in number (Exhibit G)
- LIMIT on number of depositions and number of hours per deponent (Exhibit J)
- Sanctions PERMITTED for non-compliance with a discovery schedule (Exhibit M)
 - Prior to submission of a discovery motion, the attorney MUST attempt to resolve discovery issues. In the event a motion is the only means to resolve the issue, the attorney affirmation MUST include attempts at resolution as set forth in rule 14 (Exhibit N)
 - Adjournments of conferences will only be granted UPON A SHOWING OF GOOD CAUSE (Exhibit P)
 - Parties may appear by electronic means when requested and the Court is encouraged to grant such requests (Exhibit P)
 - LIMIT as to the length of motion papers (submitted in Rule 17) (Exhibit R)
 - SIGNIFICANT CHANGES to how motions for summary judgment are prepared (eg. now movant is required to annex a short concise statement to demonstrate no issue of fact) (Exhibit U)
 - Important CHANGES TO TRIAL PRACTICE and Procedure regarding exhibits, witnesses, trial memoranda and testimony (Exhibit X through BB)
 - STAGGERED COURT APPEARANCES - in order to increase efficiency, courts will schedule each appearance at a set time interval of time. To ensure all parties receive notice of the appearance, counsel on every matter is required to exchange email addresses and notify each other of notices of court appearances. (Exhibit CC)
 

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