Court System Developing Plans to Resume In-Person Jury Trials

By Christian Nolan

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Good afternoon Members,

During her weekly coronavirus update today, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said that the New York State Unified Court System was developing plans to resume some in-person court operations, including a limited number of jury trials.

DiFiore said court personnel are still consulting on these plans and no final decisions have been made. She said much depends on the continued positive trajectory of the coronavirus metrics.

“The second wave of the virus appears by most indications to be subsiding, but we know that there are new and unpredictable variants in the mix and that the situation remains fluid and changeable, so we will be moving forward cautiously while carefully following the latest public health guidance,” said DiFiore. “You can be sure that we will make responsible decisions and that no lawyers, jurors or witnesses will be asked to report to our courthouses unless we are confident in our ability to ensure that proper health and safety protocols are in place.”

DiFiore noted that the seven-day rolling average for COVID-19 positivity was 2.9% in mid-November when the court system announced a temporary pause of in-person proceedings and trials. On Jan. 11, when DiFiore said that it was necessary to remain patient and disciplined for a while longer, the percentage had climbed to nearly 8%. Now, six weeks later, she said the seven-day rolling average is down to 3.4% as of Feb. 20.

Throughout this period of the coronavirus’ resurgence, the court system has continued to empanel at least one active grand jury in every county of the state thanks to what DiFiore described as the extensive safety measures and protocols in the courthouses.

Court System To Honor Three Judges

DiFiore said that on Thursday, Feb. 25 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., the state court system will hold its 31st commemoration of Black History Month virtually and will honor three judges for their service and commitment to the courts, and their leadership in promoting equal justice.

Judge Anne-Marie Jolly, the deputy administrative judge of the New York City Family Court, will receive the Equality in Justice Award; Judge Sylvia Hinds-Radix, associate justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, will receive the Hon. Theodore T. Jones, Jr., Lifetime Achievement Award; and Judge Juanita Bing Newton, who recently retired from the position of dean of the New York State Judicial Institute, will receive the Hon. Harold A. Stevens Trailblazer Award.

Changes to Paycheck Protection Program

The Biden-Harris Administration announced changes today to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help small and minority-owned businesses.

Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 24, there will be a 14-day period during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief through the program. The 14-day exclusive application period will allow lenders to focus on serving these smallest businesses. The Biden-Harris administration said it will also make a sustained effort to work with lenders and small business owners to ensure small businesses take maximum advantage of this two-week window.

Also, the administration looks to help sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals receive more financial support. These types of businesses include home repair contractors, beauticians, and small independent retailers. The administration will revise the loan calculation formula for these applicants so that it offers more relief and establish a $1 billion set aside for businesses in this category without employees located in low- and moderate-income areas.

Two restrictions preventing business owners from receiving loans will also be eliminated. The first restriction prevented small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions from obtaining relief through the PPP. The other prevented small business owners who are delinquent on their federal debt, including student loans, from obtaining relief through the PPP.

The administration will also ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers to apply for relief.

Upcoming CLE Webinars

Tuesday, Feb. 23 – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The Successes and Challenges in Corporate America.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 – Click, Return, Disaster! Practical Social Media Use and Ethics for Attorneys.

Tuesday, Feb. 23 – Border Searches and Digital Forensics: What Lawyers Need To Know.

Wednesday, Feb. 24 – Nursing Home Reform: The Federal Landscape.

Latest NYSBA.ORG News

In addition to coronavirus updates, we are adding other interesting new content to our website.

Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI and NBC News National Security Analyst, is this week’s guest on the Miranda Warnings podcast where he talks about the need for a domestic terrorist law in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.

We also take a look at some tips and strategies to help lawyers master the ability to successfully negotiate from the recent webinar, “Her Seat at the Table: Women in Negotiation and Self-Advocacy.”

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