In light of improving conditions of the pandemic, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey is now permitting certain court proceedings to resume in person, including non-jury criminal proceedings such as suppression and evidentiary hearings, and in civil matters, evidentiary hearings, settlement conferences, and emergent matters. Other judicial proceedings continue to be conducted via video and teleconferencing.
Criminal jury selections and trials are due to resume on June 1, 2021. Civil jury selections and trials shall resume on September 1, 2021. Only one civil trial may be conducted in each courthouse at a time. Prior orders provided that only one criminal trial may take place at each courthouse at a time. Criminal trials shall take priority over civil trials in the event of logistics conflicts.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey has authorized in-person trials and grand juries to resume beginning June 15, 2021. Criminal trials will take priority over civil trials, with those involving detained criminal defendants nearing the end of “excludable time” having the highest priority. At least one in-person grand jury panel shall be in session in each county by August 1, 2021. Remote grand juries shall also continue, as they have for several months. Civil trials shall generally be conducted remotely.
The Administrative Office of the Courts has issued a Notice to the Bar regarding the resumption of in-person jury trials. The notice provides guidance as to juror summoning, qualification, excusals, and selection; prioritization of cases for trial; locations for jury proceedings and arrangement of the courtroom; sidebars and attorney-client communications; exhibits and evidence, and other subjects.