Case numbers are falling. Vaccination is proceeding. We may be on track for a return to in-person jury trials in federal court. The question is: When will we get there? Today, we have three bits of news on that topic: On Friday, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois continued the suspension of jury trials through April 5, 2021. Also on Friday, the US District Court for the District of Minnesota continued the suspension of jury trials through May 2, 2021. In the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Lorna Schofield has set a major patent infringement jury trial for May 3. Notably, however, the April 23 final pre-trial conference is telephonic.
What will we write about when all the courts have closed? We are rapidly on the way to finding out, especially in the federal system. Here’s a summary of recent federal district court orders on jury trials: Eastern District of Arkansas: Civil and criminal jury trials scheduled before January 15, 2021 are continued to a later date. District of Colorado: Civil and criminal jury trials scheduled before January 8, 2021 are continued to a later date. Northern District of Illinois: Civil and criminal jury trials suspended indefinitely. Central District of Illinois: Civil and criminal jury trials suspended and shall be reset for a date after January 25, 2021. Southern District of Illinois: Civil and criminal jury trials set through January 24, 2021 are cancelled and will be reset. Northern District of Indiana: All jury trials scheduled to begin before January 29, 2021, are continued and will be rescheduled by the presiding judge “unless the presiding judge, in their...
Illinois presently has the largest number of daily new cases of COVID-19. On Friday, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a new general order: All civil and criminal jury trials are suspended indefinitely. All civil hearings will be conducted remotely. No motions will be noticed for presentment. (A feature of Chicago federal practice pre-pandemic was that every motion was presented in person to a judge before full briefing was ordered.) All public gatherings are suspended. Other than that, the Order states, “this Court remains open and accessible.”
On Friday, the US District Court for the Central District of Illinois (which includes Peoria, Springfield and Urbana) suspended all civil and criminal jury trials, with trials to be rescheduled by the trial judge to a date after January 25, 2021. The US District Court for the District of North Dakota, meanwhile, rescheduled all the duty trials set for last week to November 30, but it seems doubtful that date will stick. And in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), criminal trials were suspended immediately, with civil trials suspended as of next Monday. All public gatherings at the Chicago courthouse will be suspended as well.