WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES SEPTEMBER 17, 2020 15
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.
This week’s interview is with the Hon.
Maurice E. Muir, Supreme Court Justice
and Civil Court Judge in Queens
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 so forth.
SM: Are there any misconceptions
people have about judges you
would like to clear up?
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. That’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
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. The motions are being
done electronically. We print out
from the e-file system and render a
decision. There 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
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
benefit of seeing a person, assessing
their credibility, whether they are
parties or attorneys, then I think
there are disadvantages along with
the technological advantages.
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
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-file.
Then again you have to organize
things much more, track cases more
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 filed
documents, I would envision that is a
problem for them. The courts have to
be flexible and make adjustments.
SM: Is there a silver lining that
you can find from the pandemic?
MM: I think that technology is
really a double-edged sword. It has
it has pros and cons. Nothing is
Q&A with Judge Maurice E. Muir
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