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Chief Judge Says SDNY To Provide Masks and Bags For Cell Phones As Grand Jury Resumes

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 12 – When will jury trials start again in the Federal court system? On May 19 Inner City Press put the question to the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Colleen McMahon - as well as questions about maintaining and increasing Press access to SDNY cases during this COVID-19 period and beyond, see below.

 Now on June 12, Chief Judge McMahon has issued an order detailing the beginning of re-opening on June 15. Not to enter the SDNY courthouse, among others, are those who within 14 days have returned from international travel, or have released from imprisonment (except to be fitted with a location monitoring device).

 Mask are required, and will be given to those who do not have them. When turning in electronics like cells phone, a single use bag will be used. See,  Fourth Amended Standing Order 20-misc-138 and Second Amended Standing Order 20-misc-196.

  Inner City Press has been covering criminal and civil proceedings in which SDNY judges have predicted when and how jury trials could resume. Already new grand jury indictments have been filed, for example before SDNY Judge Failla (Balde re-indicted) and Judge Crotty for Joshua Schulte, a superseding indictment. Step by step. Watch this site.

  Chief Judge McMahon said that jury trials, when they resume, will be in the larger SDNY courtrooms on the higher floors of 500 Pearl Street, on the first, third and fifth floor of 40 Foley Square and the largest room in the White Plains courthouse.

   First, she said, SDNY staff will be bought back into the building. They will have wear masks, and gloves if they interact with the public.

    Inner City Press asked about criminal defendants being asked if they would consent to a non-jury trial by a single judge, as for example accused Sarah Lawrence College "sex cultist" Larry Ray as been offered by SDNY District Judge Lewis J. Liman.

  Chief Judge McMahon pointed out that in the Federal system, not only the defendant but also the U.S. Attorney's Office would have to consent. Would they?

   In the interim, much work has been done by SDNY and certainly other judges, some in their courtrooms or chambers and some not. Judge McMahon, who spoke from her chamber and comes to the courthouse every day, said it is entirely up to each judge and much productive work can be done in telephone conferences.

  In fact, she said, even after re-opening more civil case conferences may continue to be by phone. Inner City Press acknowledged that one up-side, as a journalist cover the courts, to the current virtual set-up is the ability to cover more than a single case at once.

   Judge McMahon noted that given greater spacing and physical distancing in the courtroom when re-opened, there will still be call in numbers and Inner City Press might continue to find it productive to sometime cover the case this way.

   Inner City Press raised one kerfufel of this set up, that in some civil cases despite the call-in number being public and the Press identifying itself when asked, if only by AT&T, some counsel forget that it is public and begin to discuss settlement numbers. Then they get angry what was said in a public call is reported.

  Judge McMahon indicated that she could see how that could happen, that perhaps judges should be more attuned when what is being said veers into settlement figures. A bit more on Patreon, here.

   The next step will be some physical plans, and the more SDNY court staff coming back in. Inner City Press will be here - watch this site.


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