Last week, the Bronx Supreme Court made history when it became the first court in New York City to convene a jury since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March.

The trial, a murder case, began in March before the courts shut down as a result of COVID-19.  At that point, the jury had been sworn and the prosecution was mid-way through its case.  

When trial resumed last week, the courtroom looked markedly different from when the case started.  According to reports, jurors were socially distanced, seated two chairs apart across three rows of seats, everyone in the courtroom was wearing a face mask, and the judge also wore white latex gloves and a plastic face shield.  In addition, the judge, the parties, and the witnesses all sat behind plexiglass dividers.   

All of these precautions were part of the New York State Courts' comprehensive plan to gradually return to in-person operations.  The plans also include screening procedures for courthouse visitors including temperature checks and questioning to screen for possible cases of COVID-19, which we covered here.

This trial will certainly be a test case for how well the return to in-person operations is going and whether in-person trials are feasible at this point in time.  We assume that the court officials are watching it closely and we will make sure to post any updates as they happen.

For more information, and the latest updates, be sure to monitor our COVID-19 Resources Page for New York Lawyers.