COVID again halts jury trials, grand juries in New York

COVID again halts jury trials, grand juries in New York
. (Source: Atit Phetmuangtong / EyeEm/EyeEm)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - COVID-19 is again forcing New York state to shut down jury trials and grand juries.

Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, in a memo Friday, spells out that no new criminal or civil jury trials can start “until further notice,” though cases already underway will continue to conclusion.

Likewise, no new grand juries will be summoned until further notice, though again, grand juries already operating will continue their work.

In-person jury trials were only allowed again upstate, including northern New York, starting in September, but there have been no criminal jury trials in Jefferson County since they were again authorized. There has been one civil jury trial in St. Lawrence County.

All future “bench trials,” (in which the judge acts as both judge and jury) will be conducted virtually unless “the respective Deputy Chief Administrative Judge permits otherwise.”

Socially-distanced in-person court conferences will continue, according to Judge Marks' memo.

Judge Marks said he was acting “In light of recent adverse trends in coronavirus transmission rates in New York State, discussions with our consultants and Governor Cuomo’s most recent directives” limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people.

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