Connecticut State Court and COVID-19
If you are planning on litigating in Connecticut State Court, the COVID-19 impacts to the system are widespread. The scope of this article does not include any evaluation of the legality of the actions taken by Governor Lamont or the Judicial Branch.
By order of the Governor, no person shall be permitted to enter any courthouse without wearing a mask. This order continues until further notice. No mask, you won’t be allowed to enter the courthouse.
Jury Service Suspended / No Jury Trials
Despite the fact that jury summons are still being issued and mailed (don’t ask), all jury service has been cancelled in the entire State of Connecticut. That means no jury trials.
The Judicial Branch lacks the technical capability to make bulk entry of orders on each individual case. Given the tens of thousands of cases pending, scheduling orders are made on a case by case basis as the deadlines become due. In light of that, scheduling information on JIS can be misleading. Informally, members of the Connecticut Bar Association, Litigation Section do not believe there will be any jury trials in 2020 at all. Questions remain when state court jury trials may resume.
Courthouse Closures / Reduction in Operating Hours
As of June 8, 2020, the following courthouses are open:
- Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts
- Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse at Bridgeport,
- New Britain Judicial District Courthouse
- New Haven Judicial District Courthouse,
- New London Judicial District Courthouse
- Geographical Area No. 14 at Hartford
- Geographical Area No. 4 at Waterbury
- Juvenile courts in Hartford and Bridgeport.
- Middlesex Judicial District Courthouse at Middletown
- G.A.19 at Rockville
- Litchfield Judicial District Courthouse at Torrington
Current operating hours are reduced. As of June 8, 2020, open courthouses are operating on this schedule: Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday, closed.
Expected Expansion of Operations / Hours
The Judicial Branch is also planning to expand its hours and days of operations. The details of the Branch’s planning include the following goals:
- Starting the week of June 15, all open courthouse locations will be open each day, Monday through Friday. The hours for the public will be Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Starting the week of June 29, the Danbury, Milford, Stamford and Danielson courthouses will be open to the public. Consistent with all other open courthouse locations, public hours will be Monday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Starting the week of July 6, open courthouse locations will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Reduction in Services / Priority 1 Matters
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Judicial Branch reduced operations to “Priority 1” matters.
Priority 1 business –for example, arraignments of defendants held on bond; arraignments of defendants in any domestic violence cases, emergency child custody matters and juvenile detention hearings, and significantly, all other emergency matters –will continue to be handled in the open courthouses. With the partial resumption of limited court operations in these three, cases from those courts that had been transferred elsewhere will return to their original jurisdiction.
Since then, the Judicial Branch has restarted the civil short calendar, allowing court action only if taken on the papers. Family matters have been expanded.
The Judicial Branch has deployed Microsoft Teams for status conferences, pretrials and other off the record conferences. As of June 8, 2020, the Judicial Branch cannot make a contemporaneous record of proceedings held on Teams so it cannot hold short calendar arguments or evidentiary hearings until that capability is deployed. As of June 8, 2020, the Judicial Branch has not publicly shared a timeline for “on the record” remote proceedings.
Stay of Evictions & Ejectments
With the nationwide and statewide economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, the Chief Administrative Judge has ordered an immediate stay of the service of all issued executions on evictions and ejectmetns throught July 1, 2020.
Modification of Strict Foreclosure Judgments / Foreclosures by Sale
Given the lack of operational capacity to receive and act upon motions to open judgments, as of June 8, 2020, all judgments of strict foreclosure with law days prior to July 7, 2020 are automatically opened and extended up to and including July 7, 2020.
All foreclosure sales for June and through July 18, 2020 are cancelled. No new sale dates have been set.
Expansion of E-filing / JIS
Despite all of these challenges, the Judicial Branch has made great strides in providing electronic filing services for pro se litigants and in non-adversarial proceedings.
If you have a question about appearing pro hac vice in state court or federal court in Connecticut, local counsel services, or appearing as a visiting lawyer before a state agency or in an arbitration proceeding in Connecticut, please feel free to call Attorney John Radshaw in New Haven today at (203) 654-9695. For more information about Attorney Radshaw and his practice, visit www.jjr-esq.com.