For the past several years, there have been extensive delays in the Bronx County Supreme Court with respect to pending actions receiving final trial dates and proceeding to the commencement of jury selection. An action would languish in the Bronx Special Trial Part for upwards of two to three years before the action got sent out for jury selection. The delay was the result of a combination of an extreme backlog of cases and a shortage of judges.
Recently, the administrators of the Bronx County Supreme Court implemented new rules specifically to accelerate to trial motor vehicle cases pending in the Bronx County Supreme Court. The Bronx County Supreme Court has created a new "Motor Vehicle Special Trial Part," which is presided by Judge Elizabeth Taylor. All motor vehicle cases where a Note of Issue has been filed are now assigned to this Motor Vehicle Special Trial Part.
Judge Taylor will hold an initial conference to determine if the matter can be resolved or if it needs to proceed to trial. She may adjourn for a further conference and request the following documents be brought to the next conference: marked pleadings, bills of particulars, witness lists, motions in limine, proposed pre-trial charges, tentative proposed verdict sheet and tentative proposed trial charges. This time frame from the first conference with Judge Taylor until the time she sends the matter out for jury selection is very accelerated and a short period of time. The time frame from the first appearance before Judge Taylor up until the time in which she sends the matter for jury selection could be as short as two weeks or could be for a longer period of time, solely at the discretion of Judge Taylor. She often requires the appearance of the trial attorney, and if the trial attorney cannot appear, will require proof of engagement, with the alternative being that the matter would be immediately sent to pick a jury. She has been known to adjourn the matter on a day-by-day basis until the trial attorney becomes available.
The end result of these new procedures in the Bronx County Supreme Court involving motor vehicle cases is that all parties must be cognizant that motor vehicle cases in the Bronx County Supreme Court will now receive accelerated trial dates. No longer can it be expected that cases will be adjourned due to the backlog of the volume of cases or lack of available judges. Attorneys must be immediately prepared and ready and prepare a case for trial upon notification of a court appearance before Judge Taylor in the Motor Vehicle Special Trial Part. This expedited trial schedule may also be rolled out in the near future for liability and construction cases.
The final trial date could be days, a week, or possibly longer based upon the discretion of Judge Taylor. However, each matter must be prepared as if it could be sent out for jury selection immediately after the first conference with Judge Taylor in the Motor Vehicle Special Trial Part.
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