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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 14, 2020 09:49 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: COVID-19 and the Legal System - Providing Guidance During a Judicial Emergency
Questions about what services lawyers are permitted to provide, what activities courts in the Commonwealth may continue to perform, and what time frames must be adhered to with respect to legal filings are abundant following Governor Wolf’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Disaster Declaration dated March 6, 2020, and the subsequent general statewide judicial emergency order issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on March 18, 2020, along with supplemental orders issued on March 24th and April 1st. 
In offering additional guidance, the Court has, by rule, indicated that:
        1. All time calculations relevant to court cases or other judicial business are suspended through April  30, 2020, and all pleadings required to be filed between March 19, 2020, and April 30, 2020, shall be      deemed to have been timely filed if received by May 1, 2020. 

       2. The ability of the Commonwealth to suspend a license is limited during this time.  A court hearing    must be held, and a suspension cannot occur until a decision is rendered. 

       3.  In person payments are not mandatory.  If a payment is missed, a court hearing must be held to          determine if a default has occurred.   

Despite this attempt, uncertainty remains.  Clearly, legislative action is needed to protect individuals from losing valuable rights as a result of the confusion caused by our current situation.  Specifically, my proposal seeks to simplify the process by establishing the following temporary measures immediately, which would then be automatically implemented during any future judicial emergencies.

I hope you will consider joining me in supporting part or all of this three-bill package, which was developed in consultation with the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

Document #1

Introduced as SB1119

Bill #1  Tolling the Statute of Limitations for civil and criminal cases and providing additional time for the filing of any necessary pleadings.  

Document #2

Introduced as SB1120

Description: Bill #2  Extending the time period individuals have for responding to a citation, or paying the appropriate fines, costs, or restitution.

Document #3

Introduced as SB1128

Description: Bill #3  Limiting the ability of the Commonwealth to suspend an operating license.