COVID-19 and the state of the Courts

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread across communities, it has impacted all aspects of normal operations across the United States.  From work furloughs, sheltering in place, the closing of schools, and social distancing, it is most certainly an unprecedented era.

The practice of law has not been immune from the impact of the virus.  As of March 27th, New Jersey Chief Justice Rabner has extended by 30 days to April 26th, 2020, the closure and restricted workings of court operations.  Many other states have a similar footing or will soon implement these measures.

NJ Chief Justice Rabner’s full March 27th, 2020 release can be accessed here:

It is crucial for your firm to understand the court’s position in regards to operations and be prepared for when life and courts do go back to normal. Preparing cases now can help attorneys move forward and be well-positioned for their clients once the courts resume in a more robust manner.

Federal and state courts have adjourned all civil jury trials as well as most civil bench trials. They have also discontinued most in-person oral arguments.  In some cases, these delays can behoove a case, but in others, it may leave attorneys and clients in an unacceptable holding pattern.  Here we offer a few tips for moving forward.

Arbitration or Mediation? –If both parties can agree to waive the right to a jury trial, this can be a good way for parties to come to a settlement quicker than the courts can provide at this time.  Furthermore, The firm should consider the arbitration fees when approaching this option.

Discovery during court closures- Depositions are still able to be made via video conference or telephone. The court reporting service can make arrangements for both parties.  While this is not the ideal way to conduct process and has its drawbacks, those drawbacks should get weighed against having few other viable options for moving forward with a case.  Consider also whether those drawbacks are shared equally between the plaintiff and defense.

Be Prepared for tomorrow – Court backlog was an issue before CoVid-19 issues caused process delays and court closures, and that backlog is likely to be exacerbated once courts resume normal operations.  By taking the time now to prepare cases, review documentation, conduct interviews, prepare for depositions, and hire experts for the case.

On the topic of Expert Witnesses – As a seasoned professional with Homestead Medical Experts in the Expert Referral service industry and having an opportunity to speak with expert medical witnesses on a frequent, daily basis, I can attest to the availability and willingness of experts to take referrals during this time. With all elective surgeries delayed, many medical offices are closed for business and only accepting emergency patient procedures.  The experts, also personally quarantined, now have additional time/desire to take on case documentation review and reporting and are eager to take on casework at this time.  Many are reaching out to us during this time to reiterate the availability to take cases.  Still, others are reaching out with a desire to become expert witnesses during these difficult times. In some cases, they are still accepting IME’s in person.   This is a very good time to quickly find an expert for the case and to be fully prepared once courts resume.

Call Homestead Medical Experts for all your expert witness needs during this difficult time.  We continue to be fully operational and are partnering attorneys with medical experts on a daily, frequent basis throughout this pandemic.

With a simple call to the professionals at Homestead Medical Experts at (888) 244-3703, we can provide a referral, professional profile, CV and Fee schedule in addition to an initial call with the expert to discuss the merits of your case, before you have any financial obligation, free of charge.



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