New York Court System launches portal to facilitate public access to virtual civil proceedings

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Applying lessons learned from its pandemic operations, the New York State Court System continues to provide remote capabilities for certain proceedings when an in-person appearance is not required.

With members of the press and public routinely seeking access to remote court hearings, the Court System has launched a web portal, portal.nycourts.gov/virtual-appearance-view-request, to centrally process requests to observe a virtual civil proceeding in a Supreme Court in any of New York’s 62 counties. 

The new portal will accommodate requests submitted at least one full business day (24 hours) in advance of the scheduled appearance. Individuals wishing to view a remote proceeding must submit their request by filling out a short electronic form through the web portal. Once the request is reviewed and it has been confirmed that the proceeding is virtual and open to the public, a streaming link and passcode for the virtual court appearance will be generated and emailed to the requestor. (Please note that any unauthorized recording and/or retransmission of any court proceeding, whether in-person or virtual, is prohibited and could constitute criminal conduct.)  

In the event a request is not granted, the requestor will receive an email with the reason(s) why. Proper reasons for not granting a request include: the proceeding is in-person and requires that one to come to the courthouse to view the case; the proceeding is sealed and so cannot be streamed; and/or the request is not for a Supreme Court civil matter. (To make a request to view remote proceedings in other courts, please contact the clerk in the court where the remote appearance is scheduled.)    

“Public access to court proceedings is critical because it keeps the judicial system accountable and ensures that journalists can keep New Yorkers informed,” said NYCLU Staff Attorney Veronica Salama. “New York is finally following in the footsteps of other states but there are gaps in the OCA’s planned implementation. The NYCLU is working alongside the OCA to ensure it expands this virtual access to more courts across the state.”

“The pandemic shift to virtual proceedings provides a historic opportunity to expand public engagement with New York’s court system,” said NYCLU Legal Director Christopher Dunn. “Anyone with a computer can now observe court proceedings and OCA must make sure virtual access is as simple as possible.”

A link to the new portal is also posted on the Court System website, www.nycourts.gov, and on the web page of each NYC Supreme Court-Civil Term and each Judicial District outside New York City.