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Approximately 1,500 New Yorkers showed up for grand jury service in first week back

August 18, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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While many attorneys were skeptical that it would happen, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore reported during her weekly address to the legal community that approximately 1,500 New Yorkers statewide showed up for grand jury duty the first week the courts reopened for grand juries since March.

“Last week, in New York City alone, approximately 1,500 New Yorkers reported for grand jury service, and with new protocols in place we were able to responsibly empanel 14 grand juries citywide, a major milestone for the criminal justice system,” Chief Judge DiFiore said on Monday.

Justice Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, confirmed with the Eagle last week that the process had gone so smoothly that they called in even more jurors mid-week.

“The entry and flow of grand jurors inside our buildings went quite smoothly, and the use of the new protocols, such as staggered reporting times and walk‐through temperature scanners, worked out extremely well,” Chief Judge DiFiore said. “Our folks did a terrific job, as did the district attorneys, commissioners of jurors and their staffs, to carefully and prudently accomplish this step forward, and we thank them for their efforts.”

The Criminal Courts are now hearing dispositions, dismissals and reduction of charges and other pre-trial hearings in person.

Housing Court also restarted in Brooklyn and Staten Island for in-person appearances, with the exception of eviction trials, which have been postponed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. One judge told the Eagle early last week that she had calendared cases, but so far had conducted no trials because people have been more willing to compromise in the days immediately following the court’s reopening.

“As we move forward restoring in‐court operations across the state, we will continue to consult and base our decisions on the latest public health guidance, including that from our own epidemiologist,” DiFiore said. “We will continue to rely on the comprehensive and helpful report and recommendations we received from the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts.”

Chief Judge DiFiore announced that the New York City Family Courts have added three new parts and now have 10 virtual intake parts. Two of the new parts will be dedicated to “emergency hearings” only.

“Administrative Judge Jeanette Ruiz and her very able judges and staff have done a wonderful job on behalf of the many children, families and litigants who must have immediate access to the critical services this court provides,” Chief Judge DiFiore said.

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