Grand Juries To Remain Empaneled in Every County

By Christian Nolan

January 11, 2021

Grand Juries To Remain Empaneled in Every County


By Christian Nolan

Good evening Members,

In her weekly coronavirus update today, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said administrative judges are working closely with the district attorneys in their jurisdictions to ensure that there is at least one active grand jury empaneled in all 62 counties across the state.

“Grand juries stand as a lynchpin in our criminal justice system,” said DiFiore. “They serve as the primary means by which we provide individuals charged with committing serious crimes the independent and timely pre-trial review of the charges made against them, a review to which they are entitled under our laws and constitution.”

DiFiore said the court system is able to safely empanel a limited complement of grand juries because other cases have been shifted from in-person to virtual. Reduced courthouse density combined with extensive safety measures and protocols implemented last year allowed for the empaneling of hundreds of grand juries over the summer and fall, she said.

“Of course, we will continue to carefully monitor the COVID metrics and work closely with the district attorneys’ offices, the defense bar and our own epidemiologist to continuously assess and minimize any public health risks that could be presented by the summoning of new grand jurors,” said DiFiore. “And, as has been our ‘M.O.’ throughout the entire pandemic, we are prepared to pivot quickly and make all appropriate adjustments in response to any new public health challenges or new guidance promulgated by the experts.”

Child Permanency Mediation Program

DiFiore also announced that last week the New York City Family Court launched a new virtual Child Permanency Mediation Program designed and developed to assist families involved in child welfare proceedings. She said the program was being piloted in Queens Family Court last year when the pandemic temporarily halted its progress, and is now available for selected child permanency matters citywide in addition to the existing mediation program for custody, visitation and guardianship matters.

Mediators in this program have received advanced training on family mediation techniques, including the use of different virtual platforms, child welfare laws and regulations, domestic violence issues, the impact of trauma on children and implicit bias and cultural sensitivity.

In addition, DiFiore said many Family Court jurists and stakeholders, including parent and child advocacy groups, have participated in training programs sponsored by the New York City Family Court to educate them on the benefits of permanency mediation and the procedures and best practices for identifying and referring appropriate cases.

The new virtual mediation program was made possible through a statewide collaboration between the New York City Family Court, Office for Justice initiatives, and the Child Welfare Court Improvement Project, and it is modeled on successful programs established outside New York City in the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Judicial Districts.

“We are very excited to launch this program because research has shown that mediated settlements in permanency cases generally produce better outcomes for families and children, including less time spent by children in out-of-home placement, fewer court hearings to resolve disputed issues, improved compliance with orders, and the feeling among parents, and even many children, that they were heard and respected during the process – especially important in these proceedings,” said DiFiore.

PPP Reopening

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has reopened this week for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers.

To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make first draw PPP loans today and second draw PPP loans on Wednesday, Jan. 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter, officials said. Updated PPP guidance outlining program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on Jan. 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act.

This round of the PPP continues to prioritize millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31, 2021, and by allowing certain existing PPP borrowers to apply for a second draw PPP loan.

According to the SBA, key PPP updates include:

  • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs.
  • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs and worker protection expenditures.
  • The program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, among other types of organizations.
  • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees.
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their first draw PPP loan amount.
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a second draw PPP loan.

A borrower is generally eligible for a second draw PPP loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a first draw PPP loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses.
  • Has no more than 300 employees and can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

COVID-19 Webinars

Thursday, Jan. 14 – Business Interruption Claims in the World of Covid-19.

Thursday, Jan. 14 – Effective Zoom Mediation for Mediators & Representatives Part II.

Friday, Jan. 15 – Cyber Ethics: Technological Competence During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Latest NYSBA.ORG News

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

Today, NYSBA announced that it has launched an inquiry pursuant to its bylaws to determine whether Rudy Giuliani should be removed from the membership rolls of the association. NYSBA strongly condemned the violent uprising that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, orchestrated by individuals bent on subverting the will of the voters by disrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Also today, NYSBA President Scott M. Karson and International Section Chair Jay Himes issued a statement about recent action taken against pro-democracy proponents in Hong Kong, as an American Lawyer and 52 others were arrested there.

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