After being halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, civil jury trials resumed throughout the state on March 22, 2021. For over fifteen months, courts were forced to drastically minimize their operations and transform legal proceedings into video-linked virtual conferences. All 16,000 members of New York State’s Judiciary have returned to their respective courthouses and other judicial facilities. However, courtrooms were forced to adopt a much different look than before COVID.
How To Expect Courtrooms To Look Under The ‘New Normal’
The return to full staffing does not mean reverting to densely crowded courtrooms and trials. Through advanced remote technology, the number of people physically present in court is substantially limited. Virtual appearances using Microsoft Teams and telephone conferencing have been implemented to hear all matters that do not require the physical presence of attorneys and litigants. Court appearance notifications and meeting invitations are used to inform litigants of their appearance schedules.
After consulting with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), court administrators around the state have spent millions of dollars reconfiguring courtrooms and stocking courthouses with masks, gloves, sanitizer, and antimicrobial pens. While the New York State Unified Court System is eager to normalize court proceedings, its top priority is fostering a safe environment for staff, lawyers, jurors, witnesses, and other court attendees. This entails strict adherence to established COVID protocols, such as social distancing, use of personal protective equipment (PPE), acrylic barriers, hand sanitizing, and rigorous cleaning procedures. All courthouse visitors are required to answer COVID risk assessment questionnaires and temperature screenings before being permitted entrance.
Subject to the size and capacity of each particular courtroom, not more than 40 people, including the court staff, judge, attorneys, litigants, and jurors, are to be admitted. Instead of jurors sitting in the packed rows of traditional jury boxes, they are spaced six feet apart on elevated platforms. Judges and witnesses communicate from plexiglass booths equipped with HEPA filters. Additionally, some courts even utilize particular telephone-style handsets designed to amplify whispers to allow litigants and counsel to communicate confidentially while sitting farther apart. Although COVID remains a significant health concern, you can rest assured that recent courtroom reconfigurations have made civil trials as safe as humanly possible.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With Western New York’s Finest Personal Injury Attorney
For more information regarding trials and personal injury litigation after COVID, please do not hesitate to contact the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. Jed Dietrich, Esq., applauded as an American Institute of Trial Lawyers Litigator of the Year, and his battle-tested team of attorneys prepares every case with the same amount of dedication, discipline, and determination. Although more than 90 percent of civil cases are settled outside of court, our seasoned attorneys are always ready to go to trial whenever necessary. We will not let anything, including the pandemic, get in the way of obtaining the highest possible monetary compensation for clients. Suppose you or a loved one was seriously injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence. In that case, you owe it to yourself to retain a highly experienced personal injury attorney today. We would be delighted to discuss your potential claim in greater detail. The Dietrich Law Firm P.C.’s best of the best are available 24 hours per day and 7 days per week by filling out the online consultation form or calling 716-839-3939.