The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has announced that jury trials can resume on Wednesday, Sept. 23 as part of phase three of their phased reopening plan.
According to a statement from Chief Judge Colleen McMahon in the Southern District of New York, they have prioritized the order of trials using agreed-upon criteria to select cases from among those for which trial dates were requested.
McMahon said all judicial requests for criminal trial dates have been honored and a number of civil cases have been identified as possible back up cases in the event trial slots become available due to pleas or settlements. The presiding judge’s chambers will notify counsel if a case they are working on has been assigned a trial date.
All jury trials in both Foley Square and White Plains will be conducted in the large courtrooms (Courtrooms 23, 24 and 26 A and B in the Moynihan Courthouse; Courtrooms 110, 318 and 506 in the Marshall Courthouse; and Courtrooms 275, 520 and 521 in the Brieant Courthouse), which will be set aside for jury trials. All incarcerated defendants will be produced to courtrooms for all proceedings.
During the third phase, a number of new protocols will be followed in order to keep jurors and litigants safe. According to the statement, you can read about these protocols in the SDNY Phased Re-Entry Plan (COVID19), located on their website at www.nysd.uscourts.gov/covid-19-coronavirus. A summary of their protocols can be found on the website’s rules page.
“We expect counsel to familiarize themselves with these new protocols and to help us make trials work by following them at all times,” said McMahon. “Our plan for the restoration of services to the public will only work if bench and bar operate together as partners. We also remind all counsel and their clients and witnesses to be mindful of our building entry protocols, our quarantine requirements, and our mask and social distancing policies…”
B-Rads Bistro, the cafeteria on the eighth floor of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse, will reopen with limited service during phase three. McMahon said to check the web page for further details, including information about when the dine-in eating area might reopen.
Justice Gap Hearing Monday
New York State Bar Association President Scott M. Karson will join Chief Judge Janet DiFiore on Monday, Sept. 21 as she presides over her annual statewide public hearing to evaluate the continuing unmet civil legal services needs in New York.
This year’s hearing will focus on the civil justice crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing will be conducted in a hybrid fashion – both virtually and in person.
DiFiore will be joined in person at Court of Appeals Hall in Albany by Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks, the four presiding justices of the Appellate Division – Rolando Acosta, Alan Scheinkman, Elizabeth Garry and Gerald Whalen – and NYSBA President Karson.
Presenters from around the state will testify remotely. The event will be streamed live on the court’s website beginning at 1 p.m. She said she hopes the event will help them understand the nature and extent of the “access gap” they are facing as a result of the added complications caused by the pandemic, and be provided with helpful recommendations for future action to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to needed legal services during and in the aftermath of the ongoing crisis.
From there, DiFiore will report to the Legislature on the information obtained at the hearing and the continuing work of the New York State Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, whose mission is to expand access to civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers.