On May 26, 2020, the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) issued a second updated order outlining the Court’s plan for operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order goes into place on June 1, 2020 and it replaces the Court’s prior orders. While the Order extends deadlines further, it explicitly indicates that no further extensions will occur but for a surge in new COVID-19 cases.

Here are the five key takeaways for the Order:

The courts are open virtually only until July 1, 2020, except for emergency matters. All business continues to be conducted virtually until July 1, 2020. Hearings will be telephonic or conducted by videoconference. For emergency matters, the Court has issued additional guidelines regarding who can be present in the courtroom for the adjudication of those matters.

Trials are continued. All jury trials are continued until no earlier than September 8, 2020. All bench trials are continued until no later than July 1, 2020, unless the parties agree to conduct it virtually before then. It is likely that at least some bench trials thereafter will proceed virtually as well.

Statutes of limitations are tolled. All civil statutes of limitations are tolled through June 30, 2020. All criminal statutes of limitations are tolled through August 31. To calculate the new deadline, determine how many days remained as of March 17, 2020, until the statute of limitation would have expired, and that same number of days will remain as of July 1, 2020 in civil cases and as of September 1, 2020 in criminal cases.

All deadlines are tolled until July 1, 2020. All deadlines set forth in statutes or court rules, standing orders, tracking orders, or guidelines that expired or will expire at any time from March 17, 2020, through June 30, 2020, are tolled until July 1, 2020. The new deadline in each instance is calculated as follows: determine how many days remained as of March 17, 2020, until the original deadline, and that same number of days will remain as of July 1, 2020, until the new deadline.

Expect remote depositions. The SJC issued an additional order on May 26, 2020, concerning remote depositions. Due to the ongoing challenges of conducting in-person discovery, the Court ordered that all depositions can be conducted by remote means, including video conferencing or teleconferencing, without further order of the court. The order details the logistics of noticing and conducting remote depositions.

The situation in the courts of the Commonwealth continues to evolve. Let us know how we can help you litigate your claims in these unique times.

View the full article on COVID Considerations here.

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