Chief Judge Stark spoke at a virtual FBA event in Delaware today, and gave an update on the Court's COVID-19 plans going forward. Here are the main points:
- The Court intends to remain in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, which is the phase it has been in since September. The Court will keep trying to hold jury trials as scheduled trials come up.
- No jury trials are scheduled for the remainder of December, but he understands that there are still trials set for January. Chief Judge Stark mentioned that he did not know the exact status of those cases. (Note that at least one judge has doubted that a Feb. 1 jury trial is feasible.)
- The Court remains confident that it can do jury trials safely and effectively.
- Chief Judge Stark's courtroom has been converted to allow social distancing, even with a 14-member criminal jury, and Judge Andrews' courtroom has been turned into a jury room.
- The Court has held seven virtual or semi-virtual bench trials so far, sometimes with live in-court attorneys and witnesses, as well as hundreds of remote hearings. The Court has also held 50-100 criminal proceedings. They have had positive experiences.
- There are hundreds of jury trials on the calendar for 2021, in addition to the cases that the Court hopes to reschedule that had been scheduled for 2020 and that the Court knows are pressing.
- The Court still has the capacity to hold only one jury trial at a time, at least for the time being, because of the number of courtrooms and personnel that are required.