On August 3rd, NYS Chief Judge Janet DiFiore stated in this video update that NYC courts have entered Phase 4 of economic reopening, increasing staffing to support in-court proceedings. The first in-person bench trial was conducted in Kings County Housing Court last week. Grand jury operations will resume in NYC next Monday, August 10th as planned, and expect to empanel four grand juries in Manhattan, three each in Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens, and one in Staten Island. Under the direction of Deputy Chief Administrative Judge George Silver, the Virtual Summary Trial program is being launched this week in Bronx, Queens and Richmond counties, in order to tackle large inventory of tort cases. The return of grand jury operations outside NYC has gone smoothly, and new grand jury summonses have already gone out for Term 9, which begins next Monday.
In terms of the ongoing public debate about how quickly the court system should return to scheduling and hearing in-person matters, particularly in NYC, the Chief Judge said that they are committed to restoring in-person operations across the court system in a safe and appropriate pace. The Chief Judge makes clear that the Courts haven’t stopped functioning and provides a summary of the work that has being done since lockdown started in March.