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New Message from Chief Judge DiFiore - November 23, 2020

Video with Captions | Transcript of the Chief Judge's Message

Judge Leslie Stein - Retirement

Judge Leslie Stein, by letter dated November 2, 2020, formally informed Chief Judge DiFiore and the Court that she will retire effective June 4, 2021.  

Announcement: February 2021 Bar Examination – October 21, 2020

In July 2020, as a consequence of the health crisis, the Court made the difficult decision to cancel the September 2020 in-person bar examination. At the same time, Chief Judge DiFiore announced the creation of a Working Group to study the future of the bar exam in New York. The Working Group recommended that, as an emergency measure, New York administer a remote bar exam on October 5 and 6 using materials prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE). The Court adopted that recommendation.

While the Board of Law Examiners continues to gather and study the data, our preliminary assessment is that, despite the novel procedure, this was a very successful administration of the bar examination. Of the 5,167 applicants who downloaded the exam software and were scheduled to take the remote exam on October 5 and 6, 2020, all but 17 successfully completed the entire exam. The Court thanks the Board and the staff for their hard work and dedication, the exam takers for their patience and perseverance and the New York law schools for their assistance in this process, particularly in making space available for those in need of a suitable testing venue.

Looking ahead to the February 2021 bar exam, on October 19, 2020, the NCBE announced it will make a full set of exam materials available, requiring jurisdictions to choose between an in-person or remote administration of the February exam. Although the Court originally anticipated that a remote exam would be administered on a one-time basis, the threat posed by the pandemic has not abated sufficiently to permit the Board to safely conduct in-person testing of large numbers of bar applicants in New York, and it is therefore necessary to again consider a remote option. Accordingly, in consultation with the Board of Law Examiners and the Chair of the Working Group, the Hon. Howard A. Levine, and at the urging of the Deans of the New York law schools, the Court has determined that New York will administer a remote bar exam in February 2021. Details concerning the eligibility criteria and registration process for the February exam will be announced shortly by the Board of Law Examiners. Our goal remains a safe and secure administration for all those involved.

Prior Bar Examination and Legal Education updates can be accessed here.

Statement of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore on behalf of the New York Court of Appeals on the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — September 18, 2020
It is with deep sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served with distinction for 27 years on the United States Supreme Court. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Justice Ginsburg’s family, to all New Yorkers --who mourn the loss of a native daughter of extraordinary accomplishment -- and to all Americans who today have lost a tireless champion of gender equality and civil rights. Justice Ginsburg was a pillar of consistency and strength whose legacy will endure for generations to come.
Chair of State Board of Law Examiners
On September 2, 2020, the Court of Appeals announced the appointment of former Court of Appeals Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick as chair of the State Board of Law Examiners.  The full press release can be accessed here.
Rule 520.8 and 520.12 Waiver Order
The Court of Appeals has issued an order waiving strict compliance with the requirements of section 520.8 and 520.12 of the Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law (22 NYCRR 520.8 and 520.12) to permit the New York State Board of Law Examiners to replace the Uniform Bar Examination with the Emergency Remote Testing Option to be offered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners on October 5-6 and to require an applicant who passes the Emergency Remote Testing Option to complete an application for admission within one year from the date when such applicant sits for the second day of the Emergency Remote Testing Option. A copy of the order can be accessed here.
Notice to the Bar - Court of Appeals Operations – July 22, 2020

Court of Appeals Hall is now open for in-person filings in accordance with current Court system guidelines. Individuals filing papers in person will be screened at the Eagle Street entrance before entering Court of Appeals Hall. The Court will continue to accept submissions by mail and, as permitted by its Rules, electronically. Courtroom tours for visitors will not be available until further notice.

The Court is scheduled to hear in-person oral argument at Court of Appeals Hall during its September Session, following appropriate health safety protocols. At this time, it is anticipated that the courtroom will be closed to the general public. Oral argument will be webcast live.

Please check this website for notices of any further changes to the Court's schedule or procedures. The full notice to the bar can be accessed here.

Notice to the Bar - 2021 Calendar of Sessions

The Court of Appeals has released its 2021 Calendar of Sessions. The schedule includes the appeal sessions as well as the Court’s conference days, which are scheduled for June 17 and 18 and December 9 and 10. May 18 is a special primary election appeals session day.

The full Notice can be accessed here.
Amended 2020 Calendar of Sessions
The Court of Appeals has amended its 2020 Calendar of Sessions, changing argument dates for its September and October sessions. The revised calendar also reflects changes made to the March, April-May and June sessions to address the coronavirus public health emergency.
The full Notice can be accessed here
Notice to the Bar – The Court has amended its Rules of Practice – Companion Submissions in Digital Format
The Court has amended its Rules of Practice to require, for motions and responses to Rule 500.10 jurisdictional inquiries, submissions in digital format as companions to the printed papers filed and served in accordance with the Court’s Rules of Practice. The Court has also amended its Rules of Practice to reduce the number of printed copies that must be filed for civil motions for leave to appeal, reargument motions, and papers in opposition to those motions. The amended Rules are effective May 27, 2020. Any responses to Rule 500.10 jurisdictional inquiries requested on or after May 27, 2020 and any motions returnable on or after June 1, 2020 must comply with the amended Rules. A full copy of the notice to the bar, and relevant portions of the proposed amended Rules, can be accessed here.
The Court has amended its Rules for the Registration of In-House Counsel (Part 522), effective April 15, 2020
The Court has amended its Rules for the Registration of In-House Counsel (Part 522), effective April 15, 2020. The amendments permit part-time in-house counsel practice; clarify that there is no New York residency requirement under Part 522; expand the grace period for registering as in-house counsel; authorize a 90-day period to cure any past failures to register as in-house counsel; eliminate the reciprocity requirement for in-house counsel registration by foreign attorneys; eliminate the requirement that foreign attorneys be and remain members in good standing of their home jurisdiction bars if such membership is unavailable to in-house counsel, as is the case in a number of civil law jurisdictions; permit foreign attorneys to apply for registration as in-house counsel on the basis of affidavits if their home jurisdiction is unable to provide proof of good standing because of a lack of structure of legal oversight of in-house counsel in that jurisdiction; and permit foreign attorneys who are registered as in-house counsel to provide pro bono services under the direct supervision of a duly registered New York attorney. The full notice can be accessed here.
Excellence Initiative
On February 8, 2016, Chief Judge DiFiore announced the Excellence Initiative, a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of current processes and procedures to determine what is working well and what needs to be improved in the New York State Unified Court System. For more information on this initiative, including how comments may be submitted to the Chief Judge, please see Excellence Initiative.


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