NYS Courts: No new trial jurors will be summoned for jury duty for now
The New York State Court System announced Friday that due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent COVID-19 directives, no new trial jurors will be summoned for jury duty, for now.
According to the court system, starting next week there will be no prospective trial jurors called for jury service. This includes both criminal and civil cases, as well as grand jury empanelments.
Criminal Defense Attorney Bruce Barket says this will severely hurt the criminal justice system and people arrested.
"The idea that we can just cavalierly - no more jury trials, no more grand juries, but we're going to continue to arrest people, and continue to hold people in jail, is outrageous," Barket says. "You can't incarcerate people and not give them access to the courts."
There were no jury trials or grand juries from March until July due to coronavirus concerns. As what happened back then, there will once again only be court conferences and virtual proceedings.
A state court spokesman says the decision to stop calling people for jury duty is temporary and was made "in light of advice from our epidemiologist and Gov. Cuomo's most recent directives concerning limiting congregation of groups."
Spokeswoman for the Nassau district attorney Miriam Sholder issued a statement saying, "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."
However, Barket says this is not good enough.
"What citizens may not realize is that a number of cases are disposed of at the grand jury level," he says. "There's an avenue there for an individual who has been wrongly accused, arrested by a police officer without probable cause, go to a grand jury, testy and their case is dismissed."
Pending criminal and civil jury trials will continue to conclusion. Sitting grand juries will continue to hear cases.