On Monday, November 16, 2020, New Jersey’s Supreme Court suspended criminal and civil jury trials in addition to in-person grand jury proceedings. The suspension was ordered in response to New Jersey’s mounting coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
The majority of New Jersey court hearings were already being held remotely since the beginning of the pandemic in March. But, socially-distant jury trials and in-person meetings resumed this September. According to NJ.com, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has stated, “The increasing rates of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths make it impracticable and unsafe for certain in-person court events to continue at the level reached during the past few months.”
Luckily, New Jersey courts have already gotten the hang of virtual trials, in fact, “Judges have handled more than 100,000 court proceedings remotely with more than 1.2 million participants,” throughout the pandemic stated NJ.com.
While the remote jury approach seems beneficial, it has been criticized by some New Jersey residents. Some have complained that lack of technology could limit the pool of jurors to only those with the resources to attend a virtual trial. Another issue was that of privacy. Some wondered how the secrecy of trials could be protected with jurors participating from home.
“Guided by experts in public health, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health, the Court throughout the COVID-19 crisis has continued to prioritize the health and safety of court users while supporting court operations to the greatest extent practicable,” stated Governor Murphy’s court order.
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge and you are wondering how the new virtual trials may affect you, please reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney with any questions or concerns.
Kevin T. Conway is an experienced Bergen County criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. Attorney Conway is also experienced in commercial law matters, zoning law, and estate planning. If you need an aggressive criminal lawyer, contact The Law Office of Kevin T. Conway for a free consultation.