Virginia Rocket Docket Blasts Off

By on October 7, 2020

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 trial stating: “Indicators from state health officials are is that the COVID-19 virus is not contained within the Eastern District of Virginia and the urgent nature of this trial will not allow the court to delay until it is safer to call jurors to report.” Judge Ellis therefore “determined that an emergency hardship situation is present where accommodations are needed to be taken by the court to protect the health and safety of jurors and minimize exposure to the virus in order for them to be able to serve.” He ordered the jurors to remain within the courthouse all day, “and the Clerk is to procure jury meals as necessary.”

AvatarMcDermott Will & Emery
Our 200-lawyer litigation practice advises clients of all sizes, from multinational corporations to individual plaintiffs and defendants. We successfully represent our clients in federal and state courts around the country. The strength of our lawyers is based on the fundamental principle that excellence in client service mandates deep substantive knowledge in a broad range of industries and areas of the law, and―when required―incomparable ability and success in the courtroom.

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

STAY CONNECTED

TOPICS

ARCHIVES