Earlier this week, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced that courts in New York City would resume a limited number of civil jury trials.  According to the announcement, the courts would begin with five trials in Kings County, four trials in Richmond County and two trials in Bronx County.  The courts in New York and Queens Counties will each begin two jury trials next week as well.

Regarding the health and safety concerns as a result of the ongoing pandemic, Chief Judge DiFiore stated:

We know and understand that one of the defining features of our democratic system of government is the right to a trial by jury, and so our ability to once again hold jury trials, even on a limited basis, is exceedingly important notwithstanding the disruption of the pandemic. And we are fully committed to functioning as normally as possible in order to carry out our mission of delivering justice and upholding the rule of law. 

We are confident in our ability to safely and efficiently resume in-person jury trials based on our ongoing jury pilot experience outside New York City where we have successfully completed 24 civil and criminal jury trials, with 6 more in progress, and another 16 scheduled to begin next week. 

And we are confident in our ability to ensure the safe return of petit jurors because we have benefited from the learning experience of empaneling dozens of grand juries, involving hundreds of grand jurors across New York City since August 10th. And, of course, we have been preparing for this day for weeks, retrofitting our 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 our courthouses.

And I have said this before: all 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.

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