Criminal Jury Trials Resume in NYC, Feb. Bar Exam Registration Details Announced

By Christian Nolan

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Good evening Members,

In her weekly coronavirus update, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said criminal jury trials resumed in New York City today. Specifically, one criminal trial began in each of Kings, New York and Richmond counties.

DiFiore said several backup trials are standing by in the event that a plea is taken on a particular case or some other obstacle prevents a case from proceeding to trial. On Wednesday, Nov. 4, Queens and Bronx counties will come on board and begin conducting their first criminal jury trials since last March.

Last week, civil jury trials resumed in New York City and two cases have already been tried to verdict, four trials are still in progress and five other cases have settled. This week, there are five more civil jury trials scheduled to start.

“I’m pleased to report that the jury pilot is proceeding smoothly, and that there have been no reported incidents or complaints involving the health or safety of the participants,” said DiFiore. “At the conclusion of each trial, we continue our practice of interviewing the jurors and attorneys in order to assess their experiences and get their suggestions on how we can further improve our safety protocols and efficiency.”

DiFiore said that since early September when in-person trials resumed outside New York City, 35 jury trials have been safely conducted, including four that are now in progress. She noted that the availability of imminent trial by juries has generated dozens of case settlements and plea bargains.

Since July, DiFiore said the state court system has conducted a large number of in-person and virtual bench trials and that the undisputed leader in this regard has been the New York City Housing Court, where 106 trials of pre-pandemic eviction matters where both parties were represented by counsel have been completed.

She said half of those trials were conducted in-person and the other half proceeded virtually or in a hybrid fashion. About 60% of the cases scheduled to go to trial in the Housing Court settled, enabling the court to get back to work on its pre-pandemic caseload. In-person and virtual trials are also taking place throughout the New York City Civil Court.

Also last week, the New York City Family Court opened an additional virtual intake part to handle the growing number of family offense matters that require immediate court intervention and critical services. DiFiore said the courts were able to create and fully staff that new intake part by assigning additional court reporters from the New York City Civil Court to the Family Court.

February Bar Exam Registration

Last week, the New York Court of Appeals announced that it will administer the February 2021 bar exam remotely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came in the same month that New York just completed its first-ever remote bar exam on Oct. 5-6, which was rescheduled from July and initially considered to be on a one-time emergency basis due to the pandemic.

Today the New York State Board of Law Examiners released registration information for the February bar exam.

Registration will proceed on a rolling basis with the first application filing period beginning Nov. 1. All applications must be completed and fully submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 15.

Those eligible for the first application filing period:

  • First-time juris doctor candidates who graduated from an ABA-approved law school in the United States in 2020, who will graduate in January or February 2021, or who are eligible as pro bono scholars, and did not take any bar examination (in person or remotely) in any U.S. state, district or territory during 2020.
  • Juris doctor candidates who graduated from an ABA-approved law school in the U.S. between 2016 and 2020 and sat for at least one prior bar exam in New York between July 2016 and February 2020.

After the first application filing period closes, there will be a short pause in the process and the application numbers will be assessed. A second application filing period will then open.

Candidates who are unsuccessful on the October 2020 remote exam will be eligible to apply for the February 2021 exam only if they took the New York remote exam and are juris doctor candidates. These unsuccessful juris doctor candidates will have an abbreviated filing period to reapply, which will be outlined at the time the Board releases the results.

COVID-19 Webinars

Wednesday, Oct. 28 – Domestic Violence Trends in the Context of Bail Reform and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Thursday, Oct. 29 – Local & State Government Law Section 75th Anniversary Fall Meeting Series: Session III.

Thursday, Oct. 29 & Friday, Oct. 30 – Elder Law & Special Needs Section Fall 2020 Meeting.

Latest NYSBA.ORG News

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

Today we take a look at medical aid in dying, which is under consideration in the New York State Legislature.

We also have a statement from NYSBA President Scott M. Karson in response to reports that the parents of 545 migrant children separated at the southern U.S. border between 2017 and 2018 by the federal government cannot be located by authorities.

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