Court Staff Returning to Work Spells Great News for Creditors

Photo of people commuting to represent Court Staff Returning to WorkChief Judge DeFiore recently announced that all judges and court personnel will return to work in person on May 24, 2021. Court staff returning to work is great news for creditors who filed or will file New York Civil Court debt collection actions in New York City’s lower courts.

An in-person return to work is exactly what creditors need to move their cases forward and hopefully obtain judgment after a year-plus wait. (Civil Court is available to most creditors filing cases up to $25,000.00 in New York City’s five boroughs: New York (Manhattan), Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.)

Although electronic filing is available in many of New York’s 52 Supreme Courts, electronic filing is not available in New York City’s Civil Court System.

And, until the pandemic hit New York and closed its courts, the Civil Court required everything to be submitted on paper. All summons and complaints, motions, judgments, and affidavits had to be submitted to the court in person or by mail. There was no electronic filing system available.

Months later the Civil Courts began using EDDS, an electronic delivery system that allowed creditors to file some, but not all, documents to existing cases. New cases, debt collection and others, must be filed on paper.

Although some judges and court personnel returned to work in person, the judgment clerk’s office remained vacant. The court, for whatever reason, never restaffed the judgment clerk’s office, not even partially. This prohibited creditors whose cases were ready for judgment from obtaining them. New cases could be filed but older claims for which paper judgments had been submitted or newer cases for which paper judgments were still required sit in a suspended state until staff returns to the office to work on the paper judgments.

Because of New York Civil Court’s reliance on paper, court staff returning to work is great news for creditors.

Other Factors That May Delay Cases

Even though judges and staff return in person to court on May 24, 2021, there will be other issues impacting debt collection cases brought in the Civil Court of The County of New York.

Considerations that will determine the speed at which the court processes debt collection cases, especially judgments submitted and waiting for entry, include:

  1. The volume of cases. Based on the economy, the increase in defaults in payment, slow payors, etc. there will be a substantial increase in the volume of cases. An increase in the volume of cases will mean delays.
  2. Available personnel and judges. New York’s required budget cuts affected staffing. Staff will work on the maximum number of cases they can, but, with reduced staff, there will be delays.
  3. Access to files. Once back in person, there will be access to both paper and virtual files. The legal community is hopeful that the court will do more than offer an electronic delivery system and possibly implement an electronic filing system similar to that of New York’s Supreme Courts.

For now, creditors can celebrate that their cases will move forward. Court staff returning to work is truly great news. If you have questions about a debt collection matter, contact Frank, Frank, Goldstein and Nager for a consultation.