New York halts jury selection as outbreak worsens

A courthouse of the New York Supreme Court in Long Island City, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY file photo)

As coronavirus cases rise across New York, state courts are suspending jury selection. 

Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said in a memo Friday that jury selection in New York's state court system will stop Monday, though ongoing criminal and civil trials will continue to their conclusions. 

"Please note that socially-distanced in-person court conferences will continue. All coronavirus health and safety procedures should continue to be closely followed," Marks said in the memo. "Decisions about possible adjustment of staffing levels in the trial courts will be addressed in the coming days."

He said no new grand jurors will be selected and future bench trials and hearings will be conducted by video until further notice.

New York resumed jury trials on Sept. 9 in counties outside of New York City after halting them statewide in March because of the pandemic. In the city, civil and criminal jury trials began again on Oct. 26.

Onondaga County, in central New York, has stopped counting absentee ballots because a staff member was exposed to COVID-19.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!

Statement from the Office of Court Administration

In light of advice from our epidemiologist and Governor Cuomo's most recent directives concerning limiting congregation of groups of people in public and private locations, we have made a determination that starting next week, no new prospective trial jurors, both criminal and civil, will be summoned for jury service, for now. 

Pending criminal and civil jury trials will continue to conclusion. Pending bench trials will also continue to conclusion, and newly commenced bench trials and hearings will be conducted virtually, unless otherwise authorized. Sitting grand juries will continue to hear cases. 

The summoning of new prospective grand jurors next week for empanelment will also be postponed, for now. Socially-distanced in-person court conferences will continue. As conditions change, we of course, will revisit the situation.

—LUCIAN CHALFEN, Director of Public Information

Statement from the Office of Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas

The health and safety of the public, our colleagues in the courthouse, and our staff is paramount. Every Nassau resident should rest assured that our work to keep Nassau County the safest in America continues — as it did before the resumption of juries — with arraignments, pleas, hearings and the issuance of orders of protection. Our operations will continue without interruption both in person and virtually as our work requires.

—MIRIAM SHOLDER, Deputy Communications Director

With The Associated Press