Legal Update: Status of Arizona State and Federal Litigation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
The Arizona Supreme Court issued the attached order “Authorizing Limitation of Court Operations During a Public Health Emergency” intended to “revise, clarify, and add to” the Arizona Supreme Court’s March 16th Order. The primary takeaways from the revised Arizona Supreme Court Order are:
- Arizona’s state courts remain open for business, with certain necessary limitations and changes in court practices.
- Empaneling of new juries scheduled for March 18 through April 17 shall be rescheduled.
- The Presiding Superior Court Judge of each county shall determine how any in-person court proceedings shall be conducted in each county’s court rooms, under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants, including:
- limiting in-person courtroom contact as much as possible by using technology, such as e-filing, teleconferencing, video conferencing, e-mail, text messages, and issuing orders; o following CDC social distancing recommendations;
- “in no event shall a court schedule [a hearing with] more than 10 persons at one time”;
- limiting any required in-person proceedings to necessary persons;
- “Requiring all scheduled hearing participants to notify the court of any COVID-19 symptoms or suspected exposure and to refrain from coming to the courthouse”; and
- liberally granting continuances and additional accommodations to (among others) parties, attorneys, and businesses before the court “who are at a high risk of illness from COVID-19.”
- “[T]he Presiding Superior Court Judge of each county is authorized to adopt or suspend an local rules and orders needed to address the current public health emergency in cooperation with public officials and to take any reasonable action that the circumstances require to enable necessary operations of the superior, justice an municipal courts in each county.”
- Any court rules that impedes a court’s ability to use available technologies to eliminate in-person contact in the conduct of court business is suspended through April 17, subject to core constitutional requirements.
- If it becomes necessary to close court offices to the public, court offices shall remain accessible to the public by telephone and e-mail during regular business hours to the greatest extent possible, including drop boxes for documents that cannot be e-filed.
- Time from March 18 through April 17 is excluded from calculation of deadlines under rule provisions and statutory procedures that require court proceedings to held within a specific period of time.
- Note: This does NOT apply to civil deadlines for documents such as pleadings, disclosure statements, and discovery responses.
Status as of March 17, 2020
We understand this is an unprecedented time in the world, much less litigation. As the events continue to unfold, we will continue to communicate with our clients and diligently represent them with the least disruption possible. Additionally, we will continue to work cooperatively and professionally with opposing counsel, other parties, and court personnel to extend compassion and professional courtesies during this upheaval.
Monday, March 16, 2020
The Arizona Supreme Court issued an order “Authorizing Limitation of Court Operations During a Public Health Emergency.” The primary takeaways from the Arizona state court order are:
- Arizona’s state courts remain open for business, but intend to cooperate with efforts to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- All in-person proceedings in Arizona state courts shall be avoided to the greatest extent possible consistent with core constitutional rights until further order.
- In-person courtroom contact should be limited as much as possible by using technology, such as e-filing, teleconferencing, video conferencing, e-mail, and text messages.
- The Court shall liberally grant continuances and additional accommodations to (among others) parties, attorneys, and businesses before the court “who are at a high risk of illness from COVID-19.”
- Court offices shall remain accessible to the public by telephone and e-mail during regular business hours to the greatest extent possible, including drop boxes for documents that cannot be e-filed.
- Time from March 16 to March 31, 2020 (11 business days and 15 total days) shall not be included in calculating litigation deadlines.
- For example, a Reply to a Response filed on March 11 was previously due on March 23, but now is not due until April 7.
Friday, March 13, 2020
The Arizona District Court issued an order entitled “Court Operations Under Exigent Circumstances Created by Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).” The primary takeaways from the Arizona federal court order are, effective March 16:
- All jury trials scheduled to commence on or before April 10, 2020 are continued pending further order of the Court.
- Individual judges may continue to hold hearings, conferences, and bench trials in the exercise of their discretion, consistent with the Order.
- All non-case related activities at the Arizona District courthouse are cancelled until further notice.
We will continue to keep you apprised of updates with the Arizona courts.
About the Author: Nate Meyer is a Shareholder and head of the Insurance Law department at Jaburg Wilk. He advises and represents clients in insurance coverage and bad faith matters. You can reach Nate at 602.248.1032 or firstname.lastname@example.org.