CAPITAL REGION, NY (NEWS10) – State courts resumed some in-person operations in the Capital Region on Tuesday, but proceedings will not fully return to “normal.”
While employees at the DA offices and the Office of Courts Administration were allowed to physically return to their buildings on Tuesday (with new cleaning and social distancing protocols in place), Rensselaer County Prosecutor Mary Pat Donnelly said courthouses would not yet revert to their old ways of holding in-person proceedings.
“Court appearances are going on virtually,” Donnelly explained, “the only difference is that the judges are back at the courthouse, instead of appearing from their homes.”
In Albany County, two cases were scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in the courtroom of the Judicial Center, but the defendants, their defenders and the ADA were still appearing via Skype.
The Albany County Attorney’s Office revamped its 4th floor courthouse to meet the need for victims and witnesses to testify, as well as several locations in the community for situations where it is unsure of. bring them to the building for health or confidentiality reasons.
“Normally we would be where we needed to be, we would engage [in safety planning] with our partners, ”said Albany County Attorney David Soares,“ but with [COVID-19], this complicates things as to what you can do. But we still do.
Courts in regions that have reopened can now initiate prosecutions and court cases previously classified as non-essential. New cases must be filed electronically in courts that use the NYSCEF electronic filing system, which Soares has long found.
“The federal system has been doing digital filing for decades now, so the fact that New York is finally embracing this technology,” Soares said, “it’s high time.”