The Office of Administrative Law Judges extended the suspension of in-person hearings through at least July 24, 2020. Safety required the extension. The Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19) still requires minimal staffing at OALJ offices, and less travel by the Longshore and Defense Base Act community.
Many of the guidelines in the earlier Administrative Order and Notice dated March 19, 2020, are still in place. The new Supplemental Administrative Order and Notice dated April 10, 2020, changed a few aspects of the earlier order. For example:
- In-person hearings will not take place before July 27, 2020, at the earliest.
- OALJ will start hearing cases telephonically, by video, or by other remote means after May 15.
- Procedural deadlines are further tolled until at least June 1, 2020.
- In-person mediation and settlement judge conferences will not resume until at least July 27, 2020. The parties may agree to participate via telephone, depending on the mediator’s availability.
- For e-mail filings, please make sure you follow the specific e-mail guidelines. Failure to do so may result in rejection of the e-mail filing.
- Regular mail and express deliveries are still delayed.
- The OALJ will begin issuing decisions again on April 16, 2020.
I can say that some practitioners are confused by the tolling of procedural deadlines, and whether the deadlines apply to motions and responses to motions. The Supplemental Order offers an example: “For example, if the previous deadline was April 17, 2020, which is 25 days after the March 23, 2020 effective date of the March 19, 2020 tolling and suspension Order, the new deadline would be June 26, 2020, which is 25 days after the tolling order is currently scheduled to be rescinded on June 1, 2020.”
My two cents: the hearing suspension is required. But, the litigants can still move forward with as many discovery tasks as possible to best position the case for hearing or trial by written submission.