Chemung County Courthouse in Elmira.

“Justice delayed is justice denied” is an old legal maxim, and it’s a perfect fit for the predicament faced by our injured clients seeking relief in the last year in our New York State courts, which have been mostly closed because of the pandemic. What that means is that if legal relief is not available in a timely manner, it’s the same as having no legal recourse at all.

For the Ziff Law Firm’s injured clients, many have struggled financially as they have waited for the resolution of their cases, so any additional delay beyond what was often a lengthy process even pre-COVID 19 causes severe financial distress.

Insurance carriers benefit from delaying cases, so without the leverage created by an imminent trial, insurance companies are refusing to negotiate in good faith and taking unfair advantage of the pandemic.

But there is some new hope now.

Janet DiFiore

In late February, the chief judge in New York, Judge Janet DiFiore, said the state court system is preparing to come back to life in at least a limited capacity, and that has the potential to be great news for injured clients.

DiFiore said the court system is looking at ways to increase in-person civil and criminal court appearances and even hold some jury trials. In Schuyler County and across the Southern Tier, some jury trials could begin this spring.

No more than 30 people, or about half the courtroom capacity, would be allowed in courtrooms in the state’s 6th Judicial District, which includes Schuyler, Chemung, Broome, Tompkins and Tioga (N.Y.) counties, state officials said.

Last fall, courts tried to reopen for in-person proceedings, installing Plexiglas barriers and enforcing social distancing for lawyers and jurors, but there were still outbreaks and the courts shut down again within two months. The new reopening plan is still a work in progress.

“We are in the process of consulting with our justice partners on these plans, and no final decisions will be made until we have completed that process,” DiFiore said.

Here’s to hoping that with increased vaccinations, good safety protocols and a willingness to work through these difficult times, there will be a return to the full functioning of our legal system in the coming year.

Thank you for reading,


Jim Reed
Managing Partner
Best Lawyers’ “2015 & 2017 & 2019 Lawyer of the Year”

NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
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