Only essential matters, such as felony arraignments, and ongoing trials, and family court petitions will be heard

City, town and village court buildings are now closed statewide outside New York City as the state court system has ordered most local court matters postponed and essential ones consolidated at county courthouses.


The move is part of the effort to reduce crowds to limit the spread of COVID-19.


Non-essential matters in county, state Supreme, family and surrogate courts are also being postponed and pressing matters are being handled by phone or Skype where available.


Essential matters there include felony arraignments, trials that already started, orders to show cause and family court petitions.


In a memo to court personnel Sunday, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said that judges determining what qualifies as essential "will exercise judicial discretion in a manner designed to minimize court appearance and traffic in the courts."


County or state judges will be designated to hear local court matters such as arraignments and applications for orders of protection. Town and village judges will remain available for weekend and nighttime arraignments in their communities.


New Yorkers who want to find out more about how the new protocols affect their court cases can call 1-800-COURT-NY (268-7869).