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08/21/2020 – Firm News

Firm News 8/21/20

UPDATE: Our Manhattan Office and Peekskill Office have officially reopened as of Monday, July 6, 2020, and our Brooklyn Office will follow suit in a few weeks. We are available to meet with you in-person, on the phone, or via video conference, using Zoom or Skype. All in-person meetings must be scheduled in advance and must follow our office policies and procedures in wake of COVID-19. Your safety and the safety of our staff remains our top priority. Thank you for your patience.

As we move forward amidst the difficulties created and exacerbated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you can remain assured that PPID is here for you. We understand the deleterious impact that this crisis is having on families around the world and so close to home. But, be reminded that even though this is a difficult season, it is just a season – it will pass! To facilitate its passing, we implore you to continue to take the necessary precautionary measures (i.e. social distancing, not touching your face, and washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds). The purpose of this notice is to inform you about:

  1. USCIS and Immigration Matters;
  2. The Current Status of New York State Courts;
  3. The Effect on Personal Injury Cases;
  4. Real Estate & Business Issues;
  5. Criminal Law Matters; and
  6. Employment Law Matters.

 1. USCIS and Immigration Matters

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing fees will increase dramatically starting October 2, 2020. USCIS’ fee schedule announced on August 3, 2020 will not only increase fees, but also eliminate most fee waivers, narrow fee waiver eligibility, and add a new fee for asylum applicants, and require separate fees for adjustment applications. Everyone is encouraged to file his or her applications in advance of this increase. To see a copy of the new fees, please click here. Please contact our office for details.
Las tarifas de los Servicios de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de EE. UU. (USCIS) aumentarán drásticamente a partir del 2 de octubre de 2020. El programa de tarifas de USCIS anunciado el 3 de agosto de 2020 que no solo aumentará las tarifas, sino que también eliminará la mayoría de las exenciones de tarifas, reducirá la elegibilidad de exenciones de tarifas y agregará una nueva tarifa para solicitantes de asilo, y requieren tarifas separadas para las solicitudes de ajuste. Se anima a todos a presentar sus solicitudes antes de este aumento. Para ver las nuevas tarifas, haga clic aquí. Por favor, póngase en contacto con nuestra oficina para más detalles.

Our Immigration Department understands how important it is for you to get essential information about immigration and other legal news quickly during these turbulent times. As a result, Managing Partner Conrad Pollack “The Maestro” and Partner Nelson Madrid “The Maverick” have joined forces with Partner Adam Handler “The Case Handler” on our daily morning show, Cruising with The Case Handler, with radio personality David Annakie “Squeeze” on Facebook Live and 93.5 FM. The program airs on weekday mornings at 9:30 AM, Saturdays at 7:00 PM, and Sundays at 12:00 PM.

PPID
PPID
The Case Handler
The Case Handler
93.5 FM
93.5 FM
Cruising with The Case Handler - Personal Injury and Immigration Show

Agency Updates:

  • EOIR Operational Status: In New York, the Broadway office location is open for filings only. The Federal Plaza and Varick offices are open for filings and for detained hearings only. Hearings in non-detained cases at courts without an announced date are postponed through, and including, September 4, 2020, this includes New York City Immigration Courts.
  • Actualización del Estado Operativo de EOIR: Como se anunció previamente, ciertos tribunales de inmigración han reanudado las audiencias no detenidas. Las audiencias en los casos no detenidos en los tribunales sin una fecha anunciada se posponen hasta el 4 de septiembre de 2020, incluidos los tribunales de inmigración de la ciudad de Nueva York.

Visa Bulletin: September 2020 – NEW!!
To view the August 2020 Visa Bulletin from the U.S. Department of State, please click here.

Visa Bulletin: August 2020
To view the August 2020 Visa Bulletin from the U.S. Department of State, please click here.

Trump Immigration Policy Now Blocks World’s Most Highly Skilled
Reports from immigration attorneys and a statement from the U.S. State Department confirm that U.S. consular officers in Europe are denying O-1 visas—for individuals with “extraordinary ability”—based on a health pretext. According to an immigration attorney, this may be just another effort by Trump’s administration to restrict admission into the United States of even some of the world’s most talented individuals.

Migrant Children Detained in Hotels by Private Contractors 
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Trump administration has set up a shadow immigration system on the U.S.–Mexico border. This system involves private contractors detaining migrant children in hotels before they are quickly sent home. This allows immigration officials to bypass the normal process that would allow children a chance to request asylum in the U.S. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all migrant children in this situation.

Deaths in Immigration Detention at a Record High
More than twice as many people have died in ICE custody this year than last year.
In the last couple of weeks, three men died in ICE custody within a week of each other. Two men died in hospitals after being diagnosed with COVID-19, while the other died in his cell. These tragedies increased the total number deaths in ICE custody this fiscal year to 18, the highest number since 2006. Many, if not all, of these deaths could have been avoided given that ICE has broad discretion to release people for humanitarian reasons.

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La Política de Inmigración de Trump Ahora Bloquea a Los Más Calificados del Mundo
Los informes de abogados de inmigración y una declaración del Departamento de Estado de EE. UU. confirman que los funcionarios consulares de EE. UU.en Europa están negando las visas O-1, para personas con “capacidad extraordinaria”, con un pretexto de salud. Según un abogado de inmigración, este puede ser solo otro esfuerzo de la administración Trump para restringir la admisión en los Estados Unidos incluso de algunas de las personas más talentosas del mundo.

Niños Migrantes Detenidos en Hoteles por Contratistas Privados
Desde que comenzó la pandemia de COVID-19, la administración Trump ha establecido un sistema de inmigración en la sombra en la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México. Este sistema involucra a contratistas privados que detienen a niños migrantes en hoteles antes de que sean enviados rápidamente a casa. Esto permite a los funcionarios de inmigración pasar por alto el proceso normal que daría a los niños la oportunidad de solicitar asilo en los EE. UU. La semana pasada, la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles (ACLU) presentó una demanda colectiva en nombre de todos los niños migrantes en esta situación.

Muertes en Detención Migratoria Ropen Récord
Más del doble de personas han muerto bajo custodia de ICE este año que el año pasado. En las últimas semanas, tres hombres murieron bajo custodia de ICE con una semana de diferencia entre ellos. Dos hombres murieron en hospitales tras ser diagnosticados con COVID-19, mientras que el otro murió en su celda. Estas tragedias aumentaron el número total de muertes bajo la custodia de ICE este año fiscal a 18, el número más alto desde 2006. Muchas, si no todas, de estas muertes podrían haberse evitado dado que ICE tiene amplia discreción para liberar a personas por razones humanitarias.

2. Current Status of New York State Courts

New York City remains in phase 3. Although Governor Cuomo extended the provision tolling the Statute of Limitations until September 4th, our Litigation/Appellate Department continues to write motions and appeals as if there is no “pause” and when the stay is lifted, we will be ready to “press the button” for you.

Pursuant to an announcement on August 17th by Chief Judge DiFiore, the court system is making safe and steady progress on the road back to in-person operations, courthouses across the State are beginning to gradually transition back to in-person operations, highlighted by the completion of a suspended murder trial that resumed last week with a jury in the Bronx County Supreme Court

New York City is tracking phase 4 of the State’s economic reopening, particularly in criminal courts. Grand Jury proceedings commenced in New York City on August 10th. For lawyers and litigants who cannot appear in person for public health reasons, the Courts are offering and encouraging the use of virtual bench trials. The Courts have launched a “Virtual Summary trial program in Bronx, Queens, and Richmond counties, in order to tackle the large inventory of tort cases. Although nearly half of the tort cases referred to virtual ADR have resulted in settlements, for the other half of those cases, the parties will be given the opportunity to consent to a one-day summary bench trial with relaxed rules of evidence, and the lawyers and litigants will be given the option of appearing virtually or in-person.

Outside the City, plans to restart jury trials in civil and criminal cases will take effect as early as September and October.

Due to the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases around the country, the courts extended COVID screening protocol to all judges and nonjudicial personnel. The screening involves temperature readings upon arrival to the workplace and a daily COVID self-assessment.

A “Commission on the Future of New York Courts” has been formed bringing together experts in the field of law, government, business, technology, and public service to provide guidance on navigating a safe judicial system through this pandemic.

Supreme Courts
On August 17th, the Nassau County courts began another expansion of “In-Person Operations” for what is termed “Phase 4.1” – the return of jury trials to resume in Supreme Court in the beginning of October. Criminal Jury trials are intended to resume in November.

In New York City, virtual summary bench trials are being conducted in civil matters in Supreme Court, Bronx County, and are expanding that program to New York County this week. These streamlined trials are often completed in a single day. Efforts are being made to expand the program to jurisdictions outside the City, with Nassau County on the radar screen in the near future.

The Courts are also developing a uniform preliminary conference order for use in Civil Courts citywide. This project is expected to be piloted in motor vehicle tort cases and tort claims pending against the City, beginning in September.

In Kings and Queens Counties, both courts have decided to automate the way that discovery conferences are held.

In Kings County, there will be no physical in-person appearances for the foreseeable future on Preliminary Conferences, Compliance Conferences, The City/TA Discovery Part, Final Conference Part and Final Disposition Part. Preliminary Conferences will be AUTOMATIC effective 7/13/20 and the other parts will accept Consent Orders.

Likewise, in Queens County, the Court has directed that Preliminary Conferences and Compliance Conferences will be done by the parties completing a stipulation setting forth all discovery deadlines.

The Supreme Court, Kings County, and the Supreme Court, Bronx County, have extended Note of Issue filing deadlines. Various judges have provided the bar with template conference forms to complete in order to facilitate virtual discovery and conferences. Supreme, Nassau, and Supreme, Suffolk, are well into phase 4 with new protocols for an “In-Person Operations Plan”, which can be found on the Courts’ website.

ALL FOUR DEPARTMENTS OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION ARE ACCEPTING FILINGS

To read the full version of the Current Status of New York State Courts, please email [email protected] to subscribe to our Litigation department’s mailing list.

3. The Effect on Personal Injury Cases

Governor Andrew Cuomo paused the state’s Statutes of Limitation by issuing an executive order. The order suspends “any specific time limit” on the start or filing of legal action notice, motion or “other process or proceeding.” This will mean that if you were in an accident exactly three years ago, you will have some time to file your case due to the pandemic. Be cautioned, the order pausing those rules continues until September 4, 2020.

The Case Handler Highlight:

On August 7th, our personal injury team (aka The Case Handler team) settled a case for $650,000.00 for a client that tripped on an uneven ramp.  The defendant offered NO money, and our team won $650k!! Watch attorney Adam Handler and David “Squeeze” Annakie talk about this case on our legal show Cruisin’ with The Case Handler.

4. Real Estate & Business Issues

New York City has extended the moratorium for residential and commercial tenant evictions to October 1st.  Evictions will remain paused for residential tenants and small businesses facing financial hardship due to the pandemic.

Restaurants and bars will be permitted to continue to sell takeout beer, wine and cocktails through September 4, 2020.  Any alcohol purchased for takeout or delivery must be accompanied by food. Additionally, restaurants and bars can serve alcohol in expanded outdoor seating (when accompanied by food).
Starting August 24th, New York City museums and cultural institutions can reopen.  Museums, aquariums, and other low-risk indoor arts and cultural institutions can open at 25% capacity. Timed ticketing will be required with pre-set, staggered entry, along with strict enforcement of face coverings, social distancing, controlled traffic flow to avoid crowding, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols.

NYS bowling alleys will be allowed to reopen starting August 24th, with strict safety protocols. Bowling alleys will be able to operate at a 50 percent occupancy, and face coverings and social distancing will be required at all times. Every other lane must be closed and patrons need to stay with the party at their assigned lane.

For more information or assistance with any business or real estate matters, contact us at 212-233-8100 EXT. 306 or email at [email protected], and we will connect you to one of our attorneys and legal staff to answer your questions and other legal concerns you may have.

5. Criminal Law Matters

Options for Incarcerated Defendants
If you have a loved one who is incarcerated, it may be possible to obtain an emergency release from incarceration.  Any incarcerated person who is over 50 years old, or is otherwise vulnerable to COVID-19, may be eligible for release if their case does not involve an allegation of substantial violence and there is no history of violence in the last 10 years. In some cases, an incarcerated Defendant who is not eligible for emergency relief may still be able to be released by having their lawyer negotiate a resolution.  The district attorneys have expanded their criteria for offering non-jail plea deals and are even dismissing cases in certain circumstances.

Criminal Courts
Criminal courts have slowly started to re-open, and are scheduling future court dates for the following matters:

• Conferencing of felony cases;
• Selected plea and sentencing proceedings;
• Arraignments of defendants who have been issued desk appearance tickets; and
• Preliminary hearings in cases involving defendants being held in jail on felony complaints.

You should contact your attorney, or retain new counsel if you are able to do so, to make sure you know when your criminal matter will be heard in court.  If you fail to appear for a court date, A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST COULD BE ISSUED.

To schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney, call Gregg A. Pinto, Esq. at (646) 328-2434.

6. Employment Law Matters

Many individuals who have worked in the restaurant and other service industries have been laid off due to the virus.  Prior to the layoff, though, these individuals may have been working 40 or more hours per week but not being overtime in compliance with the law.  It is also possible that some of these individuals did receive all of their required tips under the law.  In addition, employers are required to pay a minimum wage to most service employees.  Contact our office for a free consultation to find out if you were not paid in compliance with the law by your former employer.

From all of us at PPID to you, stay safe and healthy.

Resources:

 

If you need legal guidance, PPID is here to help! Call us toll-free at (800) 223-2814.

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