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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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Checking in with SDNY

In the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, civil jury trials are on the calendar for the next few weeks. Whether they happen is anyone’s guess. Back in April, Judge Jed S. Rakoff set a jury trial in a multi-defendant Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) case to commence November 9. The case is still on the calendar, with motions in limine being briefed now. Meanwhile, Judge Denise L. Cote has an employment discrimination trial set to begin on November 9, with a final pretrial conference today, by telephone. And Judge Gregory H. Woods set a November 16 trial date back in August. The parties sought to continue the trial, and Judge Woods declined. Then, a week later, Judge Woods sua sponte put everything on hold. We will watch these cases with interest.

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