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Content May Soon Run Out

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...

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Dark Winter for Trial Lawyers

Today there is a wave of news. Delaware froze jury trials, although only through December 4. New York state courts have suspended jury trials indefinitely. New Jersey has continued all jury trials, except one that is in progress. Tennessee suspended jury trials through January 31. Vermont, one of the states least impacted by the pandemic, never resumed holding jury trials, and it has canceled its plans to do so in December. Alaska has shut down jury trials through at least January 4. Pennsylvania has suspended most courthouse operations, including jury trials, statewide—just days after leaving it up to individual jurisdictions. And the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has suspended all jury trials through January 25. Meanwhile, in the suspended US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas breach of contract trial in Judge Amos Mazzant’s courtroom, which we’ve covered previously, now 13 participants—including two jurors, two people...

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A BigLaw Jury Trial in Indiana State Court

Indiana state courts have been open for jury trials since July 1, and major civil jury trials are being held. The procedures in Warsaw, Indiana, for a week-long trial: Jurors one seat apart. Everyone is masked except those speaking. Lawyers addressing the jury without masks must stand at a podium 10 feet from the jury. This level of restrictions would be insufficient in most federal courts and in many states. The trial team’s takeaway, in an analysis they published: During the pandemic, it is important not to waste the jury’s time with unnecessary testimony. We generally find this to be true in more normal times as well.

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 McDermott’s litigation team monitors US courts as they reopen amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

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