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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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Even the Rocket Docket

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is the fastest federal docket in the country. The court’s motto is “Justice delayed is justice denied.” But, as they say, the virus doesn’t care about your motto. Yesterday evening, the Clerk of Court sent out this email: “All criminal jury trials in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia are temporarily suspended, with criminal jury trials to resume on January 19, 2021, absent further Order from this Court. Such temporary suspension is in response to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and percent positivity in our District; the increase in known and suspected COVID-19 exposure of court personnel and court users; and the recent statewide and local community actions increasing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.”

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Virginia Rocket Docket Blasts Off

The nation’s fastest federal district court is the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division. A complex civil case can go from complaint to trial in about eight months. They’ve been holding in-person hearings in Alexandria for months. Monday, a criminal jury trial was underway in Judge Thomas Selby Ellis’s courtroom. The defendant is charged with production and distribution of child pornography (in this case, sending an Instagram video to an underage sexual partner depicting them having sex). There are two assistant US attorneys and one defense attorney, easing the logistics of trial. The court has moved this case with all due speed. The defendant was arraigned on March 13, as the nation was locking down. Just seven months later, he is at trial, almost as if there had been no pandemic. The trial date was set on June 30, and in keeping with Alexandria practice, it has stuck. Judge Ellis issued an order at the start of the...

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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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