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Coronavirus Outbreak News: New York Jury Trials Suspended Amid Outbreak

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Coronavirus Outbreak: Merson Law’s founder Jordan Merson was interviewed by the New York Post about the Coronavirus outbreak and it’s impact on the state courts as well as the state court decision to suspend new civil and criminal jury trials starting Monday.

From New York Post:

Big Apple civil lawyer Jordan Merson said his office has closed and has begun taking depositions by video. Also, he had already requested his cases be postponed prior to today’s announcement.

“I think the decision is the prudent one and the right one and it’s not unexpected,” Merson said.

“There obviously will be a backlog but I think everyone’s primary concern is figuring out how to get past the coronavirus,” Merson added.

Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks made the announcement in a letter to state judges and court staff saying it is “part of our ongoing efforts to reduce courthouse traffic to combat the spread of the coronavirus and protect the health and safety of our workforce.”

Ongoing trials will finish out and criminal cases that must legally proceed because of defendants’ rights to speedy trial will continue as well, Marks said the letter Friday.

But outside of exceptional circumstances, “The jury selection process in civil and criminal trial matters shall be suspended until further notice,” the letter read.

Grand juries that have already begun will be allowed to finish while, “no new grand juries shall be empaneled absent exceptional circumstances,” Marks wrote.

Marks has also encouraged judges to hold proceedings by telephone or video when possible.

Lawyers and officials said they supported the new rules.

Patrick Cullen, the president of the Supreme Court Officers Association, told The Post he supported the move but wished they would take even more drastic measures.

“I agree with it but I would urge the court system to consider closing with the exception of emergency matters,” Cullen said. “Our main concern will be the protection of our members.

Manhattan criminal defense attorney Mark Bederow said the hiatus of jury trials is “going to impact” defendants “in the short term.”

“Just the mere fact of being incarcerated right now is a concern given the deplorable living conditions in most New York jails and prisons,” Bederow said.

But he added, “I don’t think there is any alternative. I think we are dealing with a pandemic. You don’t want what is happening in Italy,” to happen here.

“Anything that can potentially reduce that possibility in the short term has to take priority,” Bederow said.

There is also a one-week pause on evictions in the city and Housing Court shouldn’t issue new eviction warrants when the person has not appeared in court, Marks said.

State courts began posting warning notices Friday barring at-risk people from entering courthouses.

Original story found here.

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