Chief Judge Janet DiFiore announced that the New York State Unified Court System intends to resume some in-person operations, including a limited number of jury trials in courts throughout the state. Although the chief judge has determined it is finally safe to bring people back to courtrooms, trials will take on a much different look than before COVID-19.
What to Expect for Jury Trials Under the “New Normal”
The District Attorney of Erie County, John J. Flynn Jr., promised that every possible effort would be made to ensure everyone’s safety. Anybody entering the court will be temperature checked, health screened and required to wear a mask. Social distancing has altered the traditional approach of summoning hundreds of potential jurors for jury selection. Depending on the capacity of the courtroom, under the “new normal,” less than 40 people, including the judge, court staff, 12 jurors, 2 alternates, lawyers, and defendants, will be admitted. All members of the jury and observers will be required to sit 6 feet apart from one another. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of courtrooms are equipped with enough space to handle social distancing. State Supreme Court Justice Paula L. Feroleto said, “We have one operating courtroom in each of the eight counties of Western New York that can accommodate that social distancing.” By the end of the month, Erie County plans on having two grand juries, which will meet on alternating days.
After the dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases last March, jury trials were suspended. Although felony trials briefly resumed in November, only one trial was held in Erie County before trials were once again halted. Alleged crimes of some of the defendants awaiting trial occurred way back in 2018. This is a serious indication of the court backlog that has accumulated during the pandemic. Jury selection will begin on March 22 for the first trials in Buffalo and Lockport in over a year. However, Western New York’s city, town, and village courts are not yet included in the resumption of jury trials.
How COVID-19 Backlogs Affect Your Case
The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. continues to stay active on all of our clients’ cases while we are waiting for the courts to catch up. Our elite attorneys will do everything in our power to obtain your compensation as quickly as possible. More than 95 percent of personal injury cases are resolved out of court through settlements. Our battle-tested team is always hard at work negotiating huge settlements, conducting mediations and arbitrations, and preparing cases so that they can rapidly progress once the courts can hear them.
Speak to a Top Rated Buffalo, New York Personal Injury Attorney
The Dietrich Law Firm P.C.’s team of compassionate lawyers realizes that accidents can lead to life-altering injuries, permanent disabilities, severe emotional torment, and financial troubles. It is no wonder that victims of serious accidents want their cases resolved as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the pandemic has extended the process of getting closure. Nevertheless, we are still accepting new clients and offer complimentary lawsuit evaluations and consultations. Jed Dietrich, Esq. and his seasoned team of attorneys would be honored to speak with you about your potential case. We are available 24 hours per day and 7 days per week by calling 716-839-3939 or by filling out our online consultation form. There is never a fee unless we WIN for you!