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3127 Whitney Avenue | Hamden, Connecticut 06518
More than a year has passed since the coronavirus swept through the nation and caused state and federal courts to scale back their operations. Courts are slowly resuming normal functions but jury trials are still on hold in Connecticut, as state and federal courts monitor virus metrics to determine when it is safe to return to fully staffed courtroom proceedings.
State court trials were suspended on March 12, 2020 and federal courts followed suit less than two weeks later. Since then, the courts have gone virtual to carry on an array of activities, including hearings, arraignments and probation proceedings. Jury trials, however, are too complex to conduct virtually, given the stringent due process and evidentiary requirements that apply.
As of early April, there are no firm plans at the state level for when jury trials might resume, but there is a tentative plan for federal courts.
The state court system has cancelled all jury selection and jury trials through April 30. The state’s two chief administrative judges, James Abrams of the civil division and David Gold of the criminal division, have said they plan to monitor Connecticut’s virus situation throughout April. Neither judge is committing to a definite date for the resumption of trials. Last September, the state courts announced that jury trials would resume in November but the courts were forced to abandon those plans when virus cases spiked. This time, the judges are being cautious in their predictions. “I guess I have no more of a crystal ball now than I did back in September,” Judge Gold said in a recent interview.
In the federal courts, Chief U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill issued an order in January suspending all jury proceedings through May 2. Federal judges can “schedule jury selections and trials to begin on or after May 3, 2021, in the hope that circumstances may permit them to proceed safely.” Judge Underhill’s order goes on to emphasize that once jury trials do resume, priority will be given to criminal trials involving defendants who have been detained for a long period of time.
Individual federal judges will have the ability to decide for themselves whether they want trials in their courtrooms after Judge Underhill’s moratorium expires. State courts are different, however. Once the Connecticut Judicial Branch makes a decision to resume jury trials, all judges will be required to comply.
At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. our attorneys are actively meeting with new and existing clients and getting cases ready for trial. If you have a potential case to discuss, we are ready to hear from you. Please call 203-745-0942 or contact us online to arrange a meeting. We have offices in Hamden and East Haven, and we offer virtual meetings for safety if you prefer.
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Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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