Jury Trials and Grand Juries Shut Down Statewide Again

By Christian Nolan

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Good afternoon Members,

The New York State Unified Court System announced today that all new jury trials and grand juries will be suspended due to the resurgence of coronavirus in areas throughout the state.

“In light of advice from our epidemiologist and Governor Cuomo’s most recent directives concerning limiting congregation of groups of people in public and private locations, we have made a determination that starting next week no new prospective trial jurors, both criminal and civil, will be summoned for jury service, for now,” said Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the Office of Court Administration.

Chalfen said the summoning of new prospective grand jurors next week for empanelment will also be postponed “for now.” Sitting grand juries will continue to hear cases.

Pending criminal and civil jury trials will continue to conclusion, said Chalfen. He said pending bench trials will also continue to conclusion, and newly commenced bench trials and hearings will be conducted virtually, unless otherwise authorized.

Socially-distanced in-person court conferences will continue, Chalfen noted.

“As conditions change, we of course, will revisit the situation,” said Chalfen.

The state court system also reported numerous cases of court employees and visitors at courthouses around the state testing positive for coronavirus in the past week.

Earlier this month, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said that the state court system was prepared to make immediate adjustments and to scale back or suspend jury trials and in-person proceedings on a moment’s notice in case a second wave of coronavirus hit the state.

She said they were closely monitoring the daily coronavirus numbers around the state and would make “be cautious and deliberate in deciding where and when to schedule future jury trials.”

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of our court family – the jurors, the lawyers and litigants who enter our courts – and the public we serve,” said DiFiore said. “We will continue to make smart, responsible, nimble decisions that protect everyone’s health and safety.”

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