Changes in Kings County As To Jury Selection and New Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution

Changes in Kings County As To Jury Selection and New Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution

By Marc H. Pillinger.

New trial procedures will be going into effect on January 1, 2020, in Kings County.  When you select a jury after January 1, 2020, when you finish picking, you will immediately report for assignment and be sent out for trial on that day.  Under the new system, “cases will be assigned to a trial judge immediately upon selection of the jury.”  There will no longer be a pick and pass system for Supreme Court, Kings County.  So, hypothetically, if thirty cases are sent out to pick, Administrative Judge Knipel assures the Bar that he will have rooms to pick in the jury selection area.  Judge Knipel also stated that there should not be any “serious problem in terms of a backlog.”  This change was objected to by both the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ bar.

Furthermore, going forward, the “pick date” will be two weeks before Standards & Goals is reached instead of the current three.

This change will require earlier planning for witnesses and experts.  It appears that Affidavits of Engagement will not be honored.

Kings County has also started a new mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Plan.  This new procedure is to expedite the early resolution of civil litigation.  In the new system, according to Judge Knipel, approximately 45 to 60 cases will be randomly selected for ADR on a daily basis.  Many of these cases will be chosen for ADR 45 days after a Preliminary Conference is held.  This will result in ADR being held, in most cases, prior to depositions being conducted.

This new program went into effect on November 12, 2019.  Based on our limited experience with the program and what we have gleaned from certain plaintiff’s counsel, so far this program has been a “zoo.”  Up to 100 cases have been called in a day.  There is one calendar call at 9:30 a.m.  If both sides are not present, the conferences are being adjourned into January to be held with a Judicial Hearing Officer.  This is what has happened in the vast majority of cases to date.

Counsel attending the mediation (when it is finally held) are required to have “full authority to negotiate and settle the case.”

We will continue to report to you as these programs go forward.

Should you have any questions, please call our office at (914) 703-6300 or contact:

Marc H. Pillinger, Executive Partner

Jeffrey T. Miller, Executive Partner