New York Courts Stop New Criminal Trials During Coronavirus Pandemic

New York, NY(Law Firm Newswire) June 9, 2020 – New York halted all new criminal trials as of March 16 in line with a statewide stay-at-home order to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The Office of Court Administration made the announcement after several people who visited New York City courthouses contracted COVID-19.

A March 13 notice from New York Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts Lawrence K. Marks stated that the jury selection process and new criminal jury trials were postponed until further notice. Pending criminal trials that already started were allowed to proceed to conclusion. New York City’s federal courts also suspended jury trials and limited court activities.

“The ongoing pandemic has presented a number of challenges for lawyers and their clients, such as a lack of in-person interaction and court closures,” commented Peter Brill, a New York criminal defense attorney with Brill Legal Group. “We are still continuing to work with our clients while trying to navigate the current reality as best as we can through videoconferencing and other tools. We have to be more strategic with our work and continue preparing for cases so that we are ready when courts resume in the future.”

The state’s court system has significantly changed its operations due to the coronavirus crisis. Most nonessential matters have been suspended. Judges, attorneys and clients are interacting remotely through teleconferencing. New York City’s Criminal and Family Courts implemented virtual court services in late March and later extended their use to emergency and essential court matters across the state.

New York City is continuing arraignments in criminal courts through virtual proceedings that include the participation of the judge, prosecutor and lawyers. Defendants will still have their day in court where charges are read to them and a judge decides whether to set bail in their case. However, things do not always go smoothly as virtual courts must contend with occasional technical glitches such as issues with logging in. Additionally, family members are unable to attend courtroom proceedings.

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