|.Coronavirus and Legal Service
of Process in New York. Process
Servers and Law Firms are
Essential Business, Says New
York State Government. New
Rules and Unexpected Changes.
|In the middle of one of the biggest health crisis in
United States, New York process servers, lawyers,
and other legal professionals have been deemed
"Essential Business" by Empire State Development.
As COVID-19 virus continues to spread in New York State, many New York City
attorneys, paralegals, process servers, court reporters and other legal
professionals are wondering whether they should return to work. Will there be
any normalcy after the Coronavirus outbreak? Is it OK to continue working
although New York State Governor Mario Cuomo issued an executive order
called "PAUSE" directing all non-essential workers to stay home? Are NY legal
workers essential? Although attorneys and process servers were not originally
listed as "essential business", the Empire State Development has clarified that
process servers are essential business in an email sent to the National
Association of Professional Process Servers dated March 25, 2020. The
governor wants only "essential workers" reporting to their workplaces, as
instructed in the executive order signed on March 20, 2020: Executive Order
|From interviewing several New York attorneys, New York City process servers, upstate New York process servers, New
York City marshals and other legal professionals, we have learned that previously there was no clarification for New York
lawyers regarding whether they are "essential workers". Do attorneys, process servers, paralegals and other legal
professionals fall under the category of "law enforcement" ? (Law enforcement workers are considered "essential
workers" according to the executive order). The governor has not openly stated that attorneys and other legal service
professionals have a green light to continue working, although the Supreme Court of the State of New York has stated
that Essential Proceedings must continue. If process servers are "essential business" then all legal professionals should
proudly say: "We are essential workers".
Common sense would suggest that ALL of us should be staying home because of COVID-19, except "essential workers"
(Listed Below). Here is a listed of legal service providers who should be considered "essential workers in New York" and
who should be listed in the New York State executive order as "essential workers":
- Criminal Defense attorneys. Who will represent defendants in the Supreme Court of the State of New York
Criminal Part if criminal defense attorneys are not available?
- New York City Housing Court lawyers. Many cases are still open in New York City Housing Courts but if we do not
have lawyers to represent tenants and landlords in illegal lockout cases, emergency orders to show cause,
emergency applications, etc, it will be the Wild West out there with slum landlords and irresponsible tenants.
Naturally the most vulnerable will suffer.
- Guardianship attorneys. Who will protect the elderly from ambitious relatives who want to grab their real estate?
Pending guardianship proceedings where an elderly or incompetent person is victimized must not be suspended;
therefore attorneys for all parties are essential
- Court translators. Translators are needed in an international city like New York City. Translators are essential in
criminal court and in civil court.
- Process servers and marshals. Who will serve the emergency order to cause if all New York process servers
choose to comply with the New York governor's executive order? Who will serve all legal papers in emergency
proceedings in Civil Court of the City of New York and the Supreme Court of the State of New York if New York
process servers are not listed as essential workers?
On March 22, 2020, the Supreme Court of the State of New York listed a group of essential proceedings in its "Essential
Proceedings Administrative Order AO/78/20". Said proceedings must continue regardless of the governor's executive
order. Said proceedings are not only for criminal law enforcement; therefore civil law attorneys, process servers,
paralegals, court reporters and other law professionals are required. If these proceedings are considered "essential",
why didn't the Governor order that the above professionals who will be needed in these proceedings be deemed as
"essential legal workers" in New York State?"
Essential Legal Proceedings Which Require Essential Legal Workers in New York.
A. Criminal matters
1. arraignments 2. bail applications, reviews and writs 3. temporary orders of protection 4. resentencing of
retained and incarcerated defendants 5. essential sex offender registration act (SORA) matters
B. Family Court of the State of New York.
1. child protection intake cases involving removal applications 2. newly filed juvenile delinquency intake cases
involving remand placement applications, or modification thereof 3. emergency family offense
petitions/temporary orders of protection 4. orders to show cause 5. stipulations on submission
C. Supreme Court of the State of New York
1. Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) applications and hearings addressing patient retention or release 2. MHL hearings
addressing the involuntary administration of medication and other medical care 3. newly filed MHL applications
for an assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) plan 4. emergency applications in guardianship matters 5. temporary
orders of protection (including but not limited to matters involving domestic violence) 6. emergency applications
related to the coronavirus 7. emergency Election Law applications 8. extreme risk protection orders (ERPO)
D. Civil Court of the City of New York and Other Civil Courts Regarding Housing Matters
1. applications addressing landlord lockouts (including reductions in essential services) 2. applications addressing
serious code violations 3. applications addressing serious repair orders 4. applications for post-eviction relief
E. All Other Courts
1. any other matter that the court deems essential
This list of essential proceedings is subject to ongoing review. Indeed after we published this article New York State has
confirmed that NEW YORK PROCESS SERVICE IS AN "ESSENTIAL BUSINESS". Naturally, by extension, we
assume that all legal services in New York, including law firms, paralegals, court reporters, court clerks are
also essential businesses.
Here is the email sent to the NYSPPSA from the Empire State Development on March 25, 2020, confirming that process
servers are "essential business":
Becker, Zachary (ESD) <Zachary.Becker@esd.ny.gov>Wed, Mar 25, 2020 at 11:15 AMTo: Jason Tallman
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Watroba, Chelsey (ESD)" <Chelsey.Watroba@esd.ny.gov>
Mr. Tallman,I’m sorry for taking so long to reply to this. I just received an email from our legal team to advise you that
Process Servers are deemed as an essential business. Please feel free to share.
Economic Development Program Specialist III
Empire State Development
620 Erie Blvd W, Syracuse, NY 13204(315) 793-6390 | Zachary.Becker@esd.ny.gov.