Jury Trials Resume in NYC

By Christian Nolan

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Good evening Members,

In her weekly coronavirus address, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said the state court system was resuming a limited number of in-person civil jury trials in New York City this week.

Five trials are scheduled for Kings County, four in Richmond County and two in Bronx County. Beginning next week Queens County and New York County will come on board with two civil jury trials scheduled in each county.

DiFiore said the plan is to follow this week’s restart of civil jury trials with the restart next week of New York City’s first criminal jury trials. She said that the court system is confident in its ability to safely and efficiently resume in-person jury trials based on its ongoing jury pilot experience outside New York City. There have been 24 civil and criminal jury trials successfully completed outside of New York City, with six more in progress and another 16 scheduled to begin next week.

DiFiore said the court system is also confident in its ability to ensure the safe return of petit jurors because of the benefits learned from empaneling dozens of grand juries, including hundreds of grand jurors across New York City since Aug. 10. And she said preparations have been going on for weeks by retrofitting the facilities and courtrooms to permit social distancing, installing plexiglass barriers and instituting extensive safety measures and best practices that should be immediately apparent to anyone entering the courthouses.

“… [A]ll of this is not to say that there won’t be difficulties, or even setbacks, as we head into the cold weather months but you can be assured that we are moving ahead cautiously, we are monitoring the COVID metrics closely, and we are prepared to pivot quickly and make all appropriate adjustments in response to public health developments and guidance,” said DiFiore.

DiFiore said that while she is encouraged by the progress being made with restoring in-court services around the state, it is important to note that the vast majority of court matters will continue to be heard virtually for the foreseeable future in order to minimize courthouse traffic.

“With each passing week, we are conducting an increasing number of virtual trials, proceedings and conferences in all of our courts, and… we are also making great use of virtual ADR to settle cases, resolve issues and move our dockets forward,” said DiFiore. “And all of this positive activity is a testament to the resilience, ingenuity and creativity of our people and the lawyers who practice in our courts, as we find new and effective ways to meet the full demand for our services during these extraordinary times.”

COVID-19 Webinars

Wednesday, Oct. 21 – Servicemembers and the Election.

Thursday, Oct. 22 & Friday, Oct. 23 – Embracing Change: Dispute Resolution in Unprecedented Times – Dispute Resolution Section Fall 2020 Meeting.

Friday, Oct. 23 – New and Proposed Business Regulations in Challenging Times – Business Law Section Fall 2020 Meeting.

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