On July 22, 2020, the New Jersey Judiciary announced that Jury Trials will resume in the state as early as mid-September. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts to various industries across the state. Since March, when Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home and business closure orders were entered, jury trials have been suspended.
The state’s plan is a hybrid approach that will combine remote, virtual components with in-person proceedings. Under the plan, the initial phases of jury selection will be conducted via Zoom. The final phase of jury selection will be conducted in-person, though juror pools will be limited to groups of no more than 30 people at a time, to allow social distancing within the Courthouses. Once a jury is empaneled, the trial will be conducted in person. Jurors will be seated 6 feet from one another and other social distancing protocols will be enforced. The jury trial plan will begin with a test run in three vicinages, Atlantic/Cape May, Bergen, and Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem. If successful, the Supreme Court’s goal is to have one civil and one criminal jury trial conducted in this way in each county in the coming months. How many trials can be held in any particular county will be determined by the size and layout of each courthouse.
This is obviously a big step in the right direction to resuming jury trial, which have been placed on hold since March. This freeze has put a great deal of power in the hands of the insurance companies, many, without the threat of a jury trial have delayed extending fair offers to resolve matters. Resuming jury trials should restore much of the balance and fairness to the process and, should the parties not come to an agreement, allow a fair and impartial jury to determine justice. Laddey, Clark, and Ryan’s personal injury team has obtained some of the largest verdicts in the state and is eager to return to the courtroom in a safe manner. If you would like to speak with an LCR attorney please call 973-729-1880.