How Do I File New Cases or Documents in the Re-Opened Courts?

Written By: Jerry A. Weiss Craig S. Tarasoff

lawyer and man signing documents

This Q&A clears up some of the inconsistencies between the Court’s website and GDB's experience navigating the newly re-opened courts.

Supreme Court

Q: Can I start a new case in New York Supreme Court?
A: Yes, New York Supreme Court is accepting new filings. However, due to the courts’ backlog, it may take longer than usual to obtain an Index Number.
Q: Can I file motions and other documents in existing cases?
A: Yes, the Supreme Courts have lifted their filing restrictions and allow for the filing of all documents electronically. Some documents might take longer to be processed than others.
Q: Are the filing deadlines still suspended or extended?
A: Yes, the suspension on most statutory case filing deadlines have been extended by virtue of Executive Order 202.48 until August 5, 2020. Deadlines set by the court and/or the parties would still be in effect.

Civil Court

The New York City Civil Court has begun Phase One of its resumption to in-person operations. The Court’s website states that it is open and accepting certain filings, but in practice, it is not as operational as it would appear. The below Q&A clears up some of the inconsistencies between the Court’s website and some of our experience.
Q: Can I start a new case in New York City Civil Court?
A: Yes (but see Housing Court below). The court will accept hand-filed summons and complaints. Upon service of the summons and complaint, a party can file an affidavit of service. The NYSCEF system, however, will only accept initiating documents for housing case types.
Q: What are “housing case types”?
A: The Civil Court’s NYSCEF system currently only allows certain Landlord-Tenant cases to be initiated, such as holdover actions, non-payment actions, actions alleging the breach of the warranty of habitability, housing part actions with harassment, alleged illegal lockouts, and Article 7A proceedings.
Q: Can I file to existing cases electronically?
A: Yes, the Court’s Electronic Document Delivery System (“EDDS”) system allows for filings to be made electronically to the assigned judge. Again, the NYSCEF system is only accepting filings for “housing case types,” and to certain cases that have been removed from the Supreme Court.
Q: Will the clerk accept motions?
A: The EDDS is set up to allow for motions to be filed. However, in practice, the clerk is not accepting motions. So how quickly these motions are heard and/or decided is yet to be seen.
Q: So what else will the clerk accept?
A: The clerk will accept a Notice of Trial and Notice of Appeal, together with payment for those filings. Parties must comply with any applicable deadlines with respect to filing the Notice of Trial, even though they may not receive a trial date from the clerk in the near future. Persons that are filing hard copies of documents are encouraged to call the clerk in advance of the visit.
Q: Are the courts open for hearings and conferences?
A: The court will begin hearing select non-essential cases. While the courthouses are open, the Court is encouraging virtual appearances via Skype for Business. Instructions for operating Skype for Business in connection with court hearings can be found here.

New York City Housing Court

Q: Can I start a new case in New York City Housing Court?
A: Yes, both holdover cases and non-payment cases may be commenced electronically. NYSCEF is also set up to accept the affidavit of service.
Q: Can I file to existing cases?
A: Yes. The NYSCEF system permits both commencing new cases and filing to existing cases for housing case types. 
Q: When will I get a return date in my holdover case?
A: Right now, the clerk is not assigning return dates in holdover cases.
Q: Will I receive an appearance or trial date in my non-payment case?
A: No. Upon a tenant filing an answer, the clerk will not be scheduling an appearance or trial date.
Q: Can a Landlord get a default judgment if a Tenant has not or does not answer a petition?
A: No. No default judgments will be issued for any reason for the foreseeable future, even in pending cases.
Q: What other delays can I expect in my housing court matters?
A: The NYSCEF system will only allow the case to proceed upon all parties’ consent. There is no incentive for a Tenant to consent, which will leave the case unable to move forward. Additionally, the housing court right now is likely focused on resolving old cases before new ones, meaning that it will be some time before new cases will be heard.

about the authors

Jerry A. Weiss


Mr. Weiss joined Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP, in October 2006. Prior to joining the firm he was a member of the Commercial Litigation group at Cozen O’Connor.

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