FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM SEPTEMBER 17, 2020 • THE QUEENS COURIER 11
Q&A with Judge Maurice E. Muir
BY DEAN MOSES
Schneps Media is sitting down with judges
across the city’s court systems to discuss
their roles and how they’ve changed in the
age of COVID-19. Th is week’s interview is
with the Hon. Maurice E. Muir, Supreme
Court Justice and Civil Court Judge in
Schneps Media: Could you describe your
duties as a judge?
Hon. Maurice E. Muir: As a Supreme
Court judge, we are essentially rendering
decisions in connection with various matters,
which could include personal injury,
contracts, mortgage foreclosures and
SM: Are there any misconceptions people
have about judges you would like to
MM: It’s just human nature — people are
going to have their own opinions. I really
try to focus on getting the decision right;
that’s what is really important to me. Th at’s
what a judge should really be doing: trying
to get that decision right. For some reason
or another, if the parties are not in agreement
with the decision, they have the right
to appeal. Judges are human beings like
SM: How has the position/proceedings
changed during the pandemic?
MM: Right now, we are not doing jury
trials or trials. A lot of our decisions happen
to be done in writing and there are
still motions that have to be resolved. Th e
motions are being done electronically. We
print out from the e-fi le system and render
a decision. Th ere are certain cases where
we would have to speak to the parties virtually.
Judges now have to become more
sophisticated with technology. Whether
it is through Skype Business or Microsoft
Teams, we get the parties together to discuss
SM: Have the technical advancements
been an upgrade for the court system?
MM: I don’t necessarily agree with that.
When you look at technology on a broad
scale, it really means that there is less personalization.
It also means that there are
people losing their jobs. If a judge doesn’t
have the benefi t of seeing a person, assessing
their credibility, whether they are parties
or attorneys, then I think there are disadvantages
along with the technological
Also, I have to spend a little more time
organizing things. You have to organize
Skype meetings for the virtual case conferences.
We had some time to catch up on
motions since we are not doing trials and
not spending inordinate amount of time
speaking with attorneys personally. In the
beginning, we had a chance during the
pandemic closure (March, April, May, and
the beginning to June) when motions were
completely stopped, so it gave us time to
catch up on the ones we already had.
SM: What does a motion entail?
MM: A motion is where a party is seeking
some sort of relief. Typically, the relief
they are seeking is that they want a summary
judgement motion (a ruling on
whether or not there is a need for a trial),
a motion for default judgment (where one
of the parties failed to appear), or a motion
for discovery (another party is not giving
them what they are entitled to by law).
SM: What are some of the most common
problems you deal with at work?
MM: Initially, the problem since the
pandemic was that you had to make sure
you have your own laptop, desktop or
printer, so you could do your decisions
by e-fi le. Th en again you have to organize
things much more, track cases more electronically.
Another problem is that some of the
Pro Se parties (people representing themselves)
need technology so that they can
participate in the litigation. If they don’t
have access to Skype or the electronically
fi led documents, I would envision that is
a problem for them. Th e courts have to be
fl exible and make adjustments.
SM: Is there a silver lining that you can
fi nd from the pandemic?
MM: I think that technology is really a
double-edged sword. It has it has pros and
cons. Nothing is perfect.
SM: Are there some hobbies or pastimes
you enjoy partaking in during
Photo courtesy of the Hon. Maurice E. Muir,
Supreme Court Justice and Civil Court Judge in
your free time?
MM: Well, because of COVID-19, I’ve
been able to work on my gardening. Now, I
can take a break, water my grass and plant
fl owers. I’ve planted a few rose bushes, and
I’ve got a bunch of fl owers lined up that I
get to water.
Gardening was something that I inherited
from my father and I have tried to
improve on it over the past 30 years. I’m
still in the house I grew up in 50 years ago,
so my father had planted a bunch of rose
bushes around the fences. Over the years,
some of those rose bushes died. So, I’ve
replanted them all.
I’ve also taken up more bike riding.
When I was at home, aft er doing my conferences,
I can get on my bike and do a
couple of miles.
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