The Supreme Court of Nassau County led a lawyer on the COVID-19 committee of the local bar association on a Thursday tour of the Supreme Court of Mineola, making changes in court for a jury trial as the pandemic continued. I checked.
Just before the tour began, Nassau’s executive judge Norman St. George said, “We are involved in slowly and deliberately returning to operation.” “… It is our view that the court separates civilization from anarchy as people come to tackle their problems … and it is important that we can be tried by a jury. “
These changes start at the door when the tour participant stood in the lobby of the building with St. George. Major Karen Malbay, one of the officers of the Supervisory Court, explained.
Everyone in the building must wear a face mask. Visitors will also undergo a temperature check and answer questions about potential COVID-19 exposure on a magnetometer near the entrance. Inside, a social distance sticker on the floor encourages people to keep enough space, and hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the building.
Authorities said two jury trials had already been completed in the Mineola court dealing with civil affairs. Next month, a jury trial in a criminal case will begin in a limited manner at the nearby Nassau County Courthouse.
Suffolk County resumed both civil and criminal trials last month.
Judge Janet Diffiore of New York said in a recent official statement that the defendant’s wife tested positive for COVID-19 and suspended proceedings to allow quarantine and contract tracking between affected individuals. A trial led to the suspension was included.
However, Nassau jury member Robert Torzzollino told tour participants Thursday that the selection of both grand jury and jury panelists in Mineola was smooth.
“I actually had a nightmare about this first jury selection, but it was great from day one,” Torzzolino said, responding to a jury service summons mailed to county residents. The turnout was “incredible,” he added.
The jury candidate is now sitting a few feet away after reporting to the courthouse, and authorities understand that Torzzollino may hesitate to be part of the panel during a pandemic. Said.
“If anyone has a problem, we are very generous with regards to postponement,” he said of the jury service.
Dorian R. Grover, chairman of the Nassau County Bar Association, who took the tour, said in an interview that some jury candidates may be concerned about what security measures will be taken by the court. ..
“We’re here … acknowledge everyone’s concerns and come back in a safe way,” he added.
Separately, Nassau court officials confirmed last week that one of his students had tested positive for COVID-19 and was exempt from his teacher, a grand jury. According to court officials, the teacher’s own test returned negative to the virus, and the rest of the grand jury committee continued its service uninterrupted.
Each trial in the Supreme Court of Nassau uses three courts. One is for minutes, one is for jury deliberations, and the other is available to spectators and the press on the screen where live minutes are piped.
St. George guided tour participants to set up three rooms on Thursday. He pointed out layout changes, including clear dividers built on either side of the judge’s bench and the transfer of jury seats to the court line where the spectators were previously sitting.
The witnesses now testify from the jury’s box, and the table where the attorney sits with the client has been replaced in court to get more distance.
According to St. George, the attorney cannot walk around the room while addressing the jury, but speaks from the podium.
“I think it will work and I think we can move forward until we can get back to normal work,” said Bill Croutier Jr., a tour participant who heads the COVID-19 committee of the bar association. After all changes.