Daily Coronavirus Update: Grand Juries Convene in NYC, Trial Jurors To Be Summoned Outside NYC

By Christian Nolan

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Good afternoon Members,

During her weekly Monday update, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said grand jurors began reporting for duty today in New York City’s five boroughs, with 8,000 New Yorkers summoned and 14 grand juries expected to be empaneled city-wide.

“And building on the lessons learned throughout this process, plans are already in motion in coordination with our justice partners, for the summoning and selection of jurors to serve on civil and criminal jury trials outside New York City,” DiFiore announced.

DiFiore said in-person bench trials also began today in New York City Housing Court on Staten Island in retrofitted courtrooms at the Richmond County Civil Court building. The bench trials are currently limited to matters filed before the pandemic in which both sides are represented by counsel. Litigants and lawyers who are unable to appear in person due to public health concerns may request a virtual bench trial.

Additionally, DiFiore said the court system was preparing for the start of in-person bench trials in early September in Housing Court in Manhattan and Queens, and in mid-September in the Bronx. In Brooklyn Housing Court, which held its first in-person bench trial back in July in a retrofitted courtroom in the Kings County Supreme Courthouse, additional in-person bench trials began last week.

Virtual Expansion

While the court system continues expanding its in-person operations, DiFiore said the courts will also continue “using technology in new and exciting ways.” As such, the New York City Civil Court today launched a new initiative employing the use of virtual mediation and trials for small claims matters in order to expedite the resolution of those cases.

The court system will begin scheduling mediation sessions by teleconference and will start with matters that were filed before March 17 and for which no court appearance has been held. Virtual trials will be scheduled for the cases that do not resolve through mediation, as well as for those cases that were filed before March 17 and for which there has already been a court appearance.

Parties who are unable to participate in virtual mediation or trial may request to proceed in person.

Also, as of today, the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF) is available to attorneys and unrepresented litigants in New York City Housing Court in Brooklyn, which will allow for the electronic filing and serving of legal papers at any time of the day. NYSCEF, which is already in use in Housing Court in Manhattan, will be available in Bronx County’s Housing Court by mid-September, with plans under way for its expansion to both Queens and Staten Island.

“Technology has played an important and integral role for us, allowing us to move our cases forward while at the same time limiting courthouse traffic and mitigating the spread of COVID,” said DiFiore. “So, as we creatively explore the many ways in which technology and virtual operations can appropriately become a permanent part of our operation, we are equally excited about the prospect of a new and even more productive normal.”

COVID-19 Webinars

Wednesday, Aug. 12 – Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19 Updates.

Thursday, Aug. 13 – Virtual Meetings: Best Practices for Corporations and LLCs.

Tuesday, Aug. 18 – Publishing Contracts: Boilerplate Provisions Newly Significant Now.

Latest NYSBA.ORG Coronavirus News

We are adding new content each day to our website related to the coronavirus public health emergency and its impact on the legal community.

Today we take a look at how to create a realistic and effective marketing plan despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Also, on the latest episode of the Miranda Warnings podcast, Dr. Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, discusses presidential polls, as well as recent polls he’s conducted on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

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