In an Administrative Order of the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts dated July 23, 2020 (AO/157/20), Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks required each judicial district to assess auction practices within the district and to develop “appropriate procedures and protocols for the safe and healthful conduct of such auctions within their districts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic” (AO/157/20). The policies and procedures set forth below will take effect immediately on approval and remain in effect during the COVID-19 health emergency. The policies and procedures herein will best ensure the requirements of social distancing and any requirement for face coverings.
Five of the eight counties of the Eighth Judicial District are small counties; the volume of foreclosure auctions is low and it is not anticipated that auctions in all but one of the present locations used will pose challenges for social distancing. In Genesee County, the former location is not conducive to appropriate distancing so it has been changed to the County Courts Facilities Building which is across the street from the former location. In addition, Cattaraugus County previously used 2 locations but, one of these has been eliminated to facilitate easier monitoring and enforcement of safety protocols. Referees conducting auctions in all of these counties will be required to enforce any applicable social distancing and face covering requirements in effect at the time the auction is held and, only one auction at a time may be conducted if more than one happens to be scheduled.
In Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua Counties prior to April 2020, several foreclosure auctions had been scheduled per day and multiple auctions had been scheduled to occur at the same time. Were this practice to continue after October 15, 2020, it would pose significant issues for social distancing in the spaces where auctions are held. This plan implements a scheduling system for auctions to be held in those 3 counties which will permit only one auction to occur every half hour between the hours of 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM; no more than one auction at a time can be conducted at any particular time. In addition, the locations of auctions in Erie and Niagara Counties have been changed to much larger spaces to insure appropriate distancing. As with all counties, Referees conducting auctions in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties will be required to enforce any applicable social distancing and face covering requirements in effect at the time the auction is held.