Association asks Court to issue long-term plan to direct profession through pandemic

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March 30, 2020
Contact: Kate Coscarelli

NEW BRUNSWICK - Saying the New Jersey Supreme Court has an unparalleled legacy of adapting to circumstances when critically necessary to promote the fair and compassionate administration of justice, the NJSBA today asked it to issue a comprehensive plan to help attorneys through the coronavirus pandemic. 
Attorneys are reeling under the new restrictions imposed by 
Executive Order 107 and most are working remotely for the first time ever.
“This is creating serious challenges to servicing clients consistent with the high standards of professional conduct to which attorneys are rightfully held. Moreover, attorneys are under unprecedented financial and mental stress, as many firms, particularly smaller practices, have already been left with no alternative but to lay off or furlough attorneys and staff. For many, taking the steps necessary to keep their doors open through the next pay cycle is the most pressing issue each day,” wrote NJSBA President Evelyn Padin to the Judiciary.
Because of those strains, the NJSBA asked the court to issue a plan that can be relied upon until EO 107 is lifted and for at least 30 days thereafter. That will “allow attorneys and their clients to get re-situated,” the NJSBA said in a letter.
The NJSBA asked the Court to:
1. retroactively toll all discovery deadlines currently in place, whether by court rule or court order (including but not limited to case management orders), restarting the counting of time frames for all such deadlines no sooner than 30 days after the restrictions set forth in Executive Order 107 are rescinded or otherwise lifted;
2. define a process to allow the courts, without the need for a formal motion, to address through concise letter requests and teleconference any circumstance presented in an individual case where such tolling will irreparably prejudice a party if specific discovery does not proceed as requested or ordered; and
3. suspend all paper copy requirements whenever electronic copies can be submitted, regardless of their length, including but not limited to any all submissions referenced in Rule 1:5-6(b), all civil motions under Rule 1:6-4, all Family Part motions under Rule 5:5-4, and all appellate briefs under Rule 2:6-12.
Click here to read the full letter.