Houser LLP — COVID-19 — Resource and Legal Team

Houser LLP is monitoring the developments of COVID-19 to prepare for and handle any issues that impact our clients, firm, colleagues, and families. We have implemented a team of attorneys and legal staff to keep our firm and clients well informed.

Our firm is taking every precaution to flatten the curve and limit the spread of the virus by remote work from home for attorneys and support staff, while remaining fully operational for our clients.

We are ready to advise clients on how to best approach issues raised by this public health crisis. We will provide updates in real time to address COVID-19 related issues.

This website includes information as it develops at the Federal, State and Local levels across the Country with a focus on the States home to Houser LLP’s employees and offices.

 

FEDERAL NEWS

President Trump Signs CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security):

The CARES Act provides a consumer right to request for forbearance on federally-backed mortgage loans for those directly or indirectly impacted by the Coronavirus. Forbearance may be granted for up to 180 days, which may be extended another 180 days.

The CARES Act places a 120-day eviction moratorium on single-family properties that participate in certain federal programs or are financed by federally insured, guaranteed, supplemented, or assisted mortgages, including mortgages purchased or securitized by governmental-sponsored entities.

The CARES Act extends $454 billion in loans to businesses, states, and cities especially impacted by the Coronavirus. As reported by the Washington Post, the mortgage servicer industry is seeking a portion of the $454 billion loan facility to provide liquidity to servicers during the Coronavirus crisis: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/27/mortgage-relief-coronavirus/

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Announce Foreclosure Moratoria, Loss Mitigation and Credit Reporting Guidance

Pursuant to Fannie Mae Lender Letter (LL-2020-02) dated March 18, 2020: “Servicers must suspend all foreclosure sales for the next 60 days. This foreclosure suspension does not apply to mortgage loans on properties that have been determined to be vacant or abandoned.”  https://singlefamily.fanniemae.com/media/22261/display

Pursuant to Freddie Mac Single Family Bulletin (2020-4) dated March 18, 2020: “Servicers must suspend all foreclosure sales for the next 60 days. This foreclosure suspension does not apply to Mortgages on properties that have been determined to be vacant or abandoned.” https://www.fhfa.gov/Media/PublicAffairs/Pages/FHFA-Suspends-Foreclosures-and-Evictions-for-Enterprise-Backed-Mortgages.aspx

HUD Announces Moratorium on Foreclosures and Evictions and Extension of Deadlines

Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Mortgagee Letter (2020-04) dated March 18, 2020: “Properties secured by FHA-insured Single Family mortgages are subject to a moratorium on foreclosure for a period of 60 days. The moratorium applies to the initiation of foreclosures and to the completion of foreclosures in process. Similarly, evictions of persons from properties secured by FHA-insured Single Family mortgages are also suspended for a period of 60 days. In addition, deadlines of the first legal action and reasonable diligence timelines are extended by 60 days.” https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_20_042

 

STATE NEWS (impacting Houser LLP jurisdictions)

Arizona

  • The Arizona Governor declared a state of emergency, activated the National Guard to help out grocery stores and food banks with high demand, stopped all elective surgeries, closed all bars, movie theaters and gyms, and restaurants can only provide dine-out options.
  • On March 30, 2020 Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued a statewide “stay at home” order.  This does not impact the operation of the courts, and attorneys are deemed “essential services” so it does not prevent attorneys from continuing to practice.
  • Courts remain open, but the Arizona Supreme Court issued an administrative order directing courts to “conduct business in a manner that reduces the risk associated with this public health emergency.”   The Order then specifies eleven specific examples, including ordering that empaneling of petit juries scheduled for March 18, 2020 through April 17, 2020 be rescheduled, using video conferencing/teleconferencing “as much as possible,” amongst other guidelines.
  • The Arizona Court of Appeals issued an order that all oral arguments will be conducted telephonically.
  • Courts in specific counties and municipalities have issued various orders limiting services and operations, and permitted remote appearances.  The universal theme is to promote telephonic appearances and reschedule hearings/appearances when possible.
  • The US District Court of Arizona has suspended all grand jury proceedings until April 17 and there were reports of court personnel being tested for COVID-19 exposure, including an excused juror.
  • All non-case related activities in the federal courts have been canceled until further notice.

California

  • Federal Central District is closed through May 1, 2020 unless concerning an emergency matter. All emergency civil matters will be heard telephonically. Central District Bankruptcy appearances through May 1, 2020 will proceed telephonically. https://www.cacd.uscourts.gov/news/covid-19-notice
  • Federal Eastern District and Eastern District Bankruptcy Courts through May 1, 2020 are closed to the public. All civil matters will be decided on the papers. Any necessary hearings will be heard telephonically.
  • Northern Federal District and Northern District Bankruptcy Courts through May 1, 2020 are closed to the public. All civil matters will be decided on the papers. Any necessary hearings will be heard telephonically. Any trial dates currently scheduled are vacated.
  • Federal Southern District and Southern District Bankruptcy Courts will remain open. All jury trials are continued until April 16, 2020. Individual judges are granted discretion to conduct hearings and are encouraged to conduct hearings telephonically.
  • Parties in the Federal Southern District are excused from making personal appearances in court for civil hearings unless ordered to appear. Individual judges retain discretion to conduct hearings telephonically or continue hearings.
  • In response to the Region 15 United States Trustee’s (“UST’s”) Notice RE: Section 341 Meeting of Creditors continuing all § 341 meetings, and the UST’s request that certain deadlines contained in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (“Rules”) and 11 U.S.C. § 1308 be temporarily extended to accommodate logistical challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Administrative Order 20-3 can be found here.
  • The guidelines previously issued have been amended to reflect changing conditions as the court gains experience with mandatory telephonic hearings. The amended guidelines can be found here.
  • California has reached an agreement with Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and nearly 200 state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers to address financial hardships incurred as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. California residential homeowners may be eligible for:
  • 90-day mortgage forbearance;
  • 90-day waiver of late fees and other fees;
  • 60-day moratorium on foreclosures and evictions; and
  • Relief from derogatory credit reporting.
  • Additional information is available at:
  • https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/25/governor-gavin-newsom-announces-major- financial-relief-package-90-day-mortgage-payment-relief-during-covid-19-crisis/.

https://covid19.ca.gov/get-financial-help/#top

  • California’s Governor “requested” that all “financial institutions” voluntarily hold off on foreclosing or evicting those impacted by the COVID-19 threat. The request appears to only apply “when the foreclosure or foreclosure-related eviction arises out of a substantial decrease in household or business income or substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses, which were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or by any local state or federal government response to COVID-19.” https://wclp.org/joint-statement-on-governor-newsoms-march-16th-executive-order-regarding-covid-19-and-housing/
  • California Superior Courts have suspended all jury trials through May 22, 2020.
  • Los Angeles County State Courts are closed through June 22, 2020 unless they concern emergency and essential matters. All civil matters and trials are suspended through April 16, 2020. All unlawful detainer matters continued indefinitely without determination.
  • Orange County State Courts are closed through May 22, 2020 unless they concern emergency and essential matters. All civil matters and trials are suspended through May 22, 2020 and will be re-noticed by the court.
  • San Jose State Courthouse will be closed to staff and the public entirely, effective March 24, 2020, until April 7, 2020.
  • The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has consolidated and relocated all essential court proceedings to the San Francisco Courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, effective March 26, 2020 until April 7, 2020.
  • The San Jose, Oakland, and Eureka-McKinleyville courthouses are entirely closed to the general public from Thursday, March 26, 2020 until April 7, 2020.
  • There are 58 counties in California State Courts. Please refer to the following link for the dates and restrictions on each county or please contact our COVID-19 team. https://newsroom.courts.ca.gov/news/court-emergency-orders-6794321
  • California Supreme Court and Appellate Courts have indefinitely suspended all in-person oral arguments. All oral arguments will be conducted via telephonic or videoconference. All electronic filings are permitted.
  • https://www.cmba.com/covid-19/

Connecticut

  • Consistent with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s recently enacted 60-day moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, all foreclosure sales previously scheduled to have occurred in April or May are hereby rescheduled to Saturday, June 6, 2020, with no appointed Committee to begin working on the sale (i.e. place foreclosure signs on properties, etc.) prior to May 1, 2020. The judgment in any foreclosure action in which the Court set a “law day” to run on any date in April or May is hereby amended with the first law day now set for June 2, 2020. There shall be an immediate stay of all issued executions and ejectments through May 1, 2020. Finally, all civil trials, trial management conferences, pre-trials, status conferences, J-ADR mediations and short calendars, arguable and non-arguable, have been cancelled so long as Judicial Branch operations are limited to Priority 1 functions only. Per order of Hon. James W. Abrams, Chief Administrative Judge for Civil Matters.
  • Appellate and Supreme Court: Appellate briefing deadlines are suspended until further notice and no briefs are to be filed.
  • Federal Courts: All in-court (in-person) civil and criminal proceedings scheduled to commence on or before April 10, 2020, before any district or magistrate judge in any courthouse in the District of Connecticut shall be continued pending further Order of the Court, outside of a few exceptions
  • Bankruptcy courts are continuing all in-person section 341 meetings through April 10, 2020.
  • Federal Appellate Courts: Oral argument will be held using a teleconference platform or parties can submit for a determination on the papers. All filing deadlines are tolled 21 days, effective through May 17, 2020

Massachusetts

  • State courts are closed except for emergency hearings until at least April 6, 2020, as of now.
  • All non-emergency cases are continued until April 21, 2020.
  • Statutes of limitations are tolled from March 18 through April 21, 2020.
  • Unless otherwise ordered, all deadlines set forth in statutes or court rules, standing orders, or guidelines that would otherwise expire before April 21, 2020, are extended to that date.
  • Orders, such as TROs, set to expire prior to April 21, 2020, shall remain in effect until the matter is rescheduled and heard.
  • Eviction judgments cannot issue until after April 21, 2020. However, as of now, there is nothing preventing an eviction where a party already holds an execution for possession.
  • Non-judicial foreclosures may still occur under Massachusetts law but this is subject to change.
  • All matters scheduled for oral argument before the Appeals Court in April shall be deemed submitted on the briefs on file, without any further argument unless otherwise ordered by the Court in a particular case.
  • All in-person Bankruptcy chapter 7, 12, and 13 section 341 meetings scheduled through April 10, 2020 are continued until a later date to be determined.
  • The USDC MA Springfield Clerk’s Office and Courtroom is closed. So is the MA Bankruptcy court in Springfield, Worcester and Boston. Parties may use a drop box at the building’s entrance to file pleadings or, for emergencies, may file documents by email, facsimile, or at the counter in Worcester or at the Boston Clerk’s Office of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Telephonic hearings will continue to be held.

Minnesota

  • Federals courts in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Fergus Falls will remain open.
  • Effective immediately, all jury trials in the District of Minnesota with be continued to April 27, 2020.
  • The Clerk’s office, the Probation and Pretrial Services Office, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and all other court services will remain open pending further order of the court.
  • Minnesota District Court closed the window to the public, but they are accepting electronic filings (and paper filings in a locked drop box in St. Paul).  They have also centralized mail at the Minneapolis courthouse.
  • Check mnd.uscourts.gov for the latest news.

Nevada

  • County and statewide closures of non-essential businesses currently for 30 days or until otherwise notified per Governor Mandate.
  • Federal courts and Reno state courts have upgraded their restrictions against any public access or in person flings absent judicial exceptions and until ordered otherwise.
  • Most non-essential business and attorneys continue to work remotely per state and county directives.
  • Main county and district courts are closed to the public or have limited entry for court authorized personnel or functions for 30 days or until otherwise notified.
  • Court e-filing and limited filing windows for certain matters remain open. Courts remain operational with most hearings telephonically, continued, or decided on the papers.  Trial, settlement conferences, and evidentiary type hearings requiring personal attendance are continued.
  • Moratoriums honored on evictions and foreclosures currently for 30 to 60 days based on federal GSE mandates.

New Mexico

  • Most New Mexico courts will remain open, but have implemented protocols to take to curtail exposure to COVID-19.
  • On March 18, 2020, the state Supreme Court issued an order extending the payment of fines and fees for 30 days to help financially struggling New Mexicans and reduce the number of people who appear in courthouses to resolve traffic and other cases.
  • The Supreme Court’s order will add 30 days to the payment deadline imposed by a magistrate, metropolitan, district or municipal court for fines and fees that must be paid between March 19 and May 29, 2020. The extension does not apply to amounts past due. People with questions about their payment deadline should contact the court that imposed the penalties.
  • The public can find information about court operations and coronavirus precautionary measures on the website of the New Mexico judicial branch of government (nmcourts.gov) and on websites of each of the state’s 13 district courts.

New Jersey

  • No in person appearances outside of emergency situations and ongoing trials.
  • Discovery time constraints are relaxed and extended for a 2 week period through March 30, 2020.
  • Pending motions subject to telephonic conferencing/ video conferencing
  • Filings still accepted online.
  • All deadlines tolled through April 26, 2020.
  • Nonjury proceedings will be staggered to prevent large crowds.
  • As of March 18, 2020 and until further notice, there are no in-person Superior Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing trials). As many matters as possible (including case management conferences, motions, and hearings) will be handled by telephone or video conference. See https://njcourts.gov/.
  • Federal courts – Still conducting jury trials for those pending, but no new trials before April 30, 2020
  • Through April 26, 2020 all Landlord/Tenant calendars and all Municipal Court sessions are postponed and a new date will be provided to you.

New York

  • No new court filings in New York State courts unless on the “essential” list.
  • All statute of limitations are tolled to April 19, 2020.
  • All eviction and foreclosure judgments shall not be enforced for 90 days.
  • All non-essential functions of the Court are suspended as of March 16, 2020.
  • Pending civil and criminal trials will proceed to their conclusion.  No new ones will commence.
  • Any necessary hearings to be held by video conference or telephone.
  • SDNY- find updated operating procedures in response to COVID-19 at http://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/general-orders-and-guidance-created-covid-19.
  • EDNY- no new trials before April 27, 2020.
  • Effective March 17, 2020 all pending eviction cases and orders were suspended, but “hundreds of new cases were filed” citywide this week, according to a recent email from New York City Housing Court Judge Jean Schneider to attorneys. Those new cases will be postponed for “about 45 days.”
  • Civil Litigation Generally: The prosecution of-pending civil matters (including discovery) in a manner that requires in-person appearances or travel, or otherwise requires actions inconsistent with prevailing health and safety directives relating to the coronavirus health emergency, is strongly discouraged.
  • Civil Discovery generally: Where a party, attorney or other person is unable to meet discovery or other litigation schedules (including dispositive motion deadlines) for reasons related to the coronavirus health emergency, the parties shall use best efforts to postpone proceedings by agreement and stipulation for a period not to exceed 90 days.
  • The MLK Courthouse and the Lautenberg Post Office and Courthouse will be closed effective immediately until April 6, 2020.

Appellate Court:

  • 1st Dept- calendared matters through March 27, 2020 to be taken on submission or argued via Skype  Future appeals are adjourned
  • 2nd Dept- All appeals and deadlines suspended indefinitely

Oregon

  • Federal Court locations closed to public only, but available by telephone.
  • E-filing continues – conventional filings must go in specified drop boxes rather than the filing window.
  • Civil trials, criminal trials, and in court appearances scheduled before April 26, 2020 are continued. Telephonic hearings are still being held.
  • State level 3 Restriction per Chief Justice Order 20-006 through at least March 27, 2020.
  • All jury trials (except criminal trials where there is a statutory or constitutional right to a speedy trial that would be jeopardized) are postponed without motion through March 27, 2020.
  • No new trials scheduled between now and March 27, 2020.
  • For all Forcible Entry and Detailer cases, the first appearance required in those cases is continued without a motion, and all trials scheduled before March 27, 2020 area continued without a motion. Landlords can file a motion for an order requiring the tenant to pay rent while the case is pending.
  • All in person hearings/ trials postponed and nothing new will be scheduled during level 3 status.
  • Applies to Circuit, Appellate, and Supreme levels.

Washington

  • Governor Inslee announces “The Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order effective until April 6, 2020.
  • See the Essential Businesses still operating here: https://coronavirus.wa.gov/whats-open-and-closed/essential-business
  • 30-day ban on eviction of residential tenants through April 18, 2020.
  • All Washington Superior Court civil jury trials suspended through April 24, 2020. All non-emergency civil matters “shall be” continued through April 24, 2020. All emergency civil matters may be heard telephonically. http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20Orders/Supreme%20Court%20Emergency%20Order%20re%20CV19%20031820.pdf
  • King County is no longer accepting service of process in person.
  • Spokane County is continuing all civil hearings until at least April 24, 2020.
  • Kittitas Superior Court is closed to the public until further notice.
  • Western District of Washington Courts are closed through April 17, 2020 unless they concern emergency matters. This does not affect motions that can be resolved without oral argument. All civil hearings and trials before June 1, 2020 are continued.
  • See further Western District Court updates here public website
  • In the Eastern District of Washington, all scheduled, non-telephonic hearings are suspended through April 14, 2020. The Yakima Courthouse is closed until April 30, 2020.
  • See further Eastern District Court updates here https://www.waed.uscourts.gov/news
  • Bankruptcy Courts will continue with non-evidentiary hearings, telephonically. All 341 creditors meetings are suspended through April 10, 2020.
  • Federal Eastern District of Washington Courts are generally closed through April 14, 2020. All hearings until April 14, 2020 are vacated. Filings may still be made electronically.

 

WHO TO CONTACT:

If you have additional questions or concerns regarding these important matters, please feel free to contact Bob Norman rnorman@houser-law.com; Ryan Moore rmoore@houser-law.com, and/or Jordan Schur jschur@houser-law.com.

For the Latest COVID-19 Updates Check Here:

 

The content of this website and the information provided herein are for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice.