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United States v. Trimarco

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

September 1, 2020, Decided; September 1, 2020, Filed

17-CR-583 (JMA)

Opinion

ORDER

AZRACK, United States District Judge:

President John Adams, a trial lawyer by profession, once described trial by jury as part of the "heart and lungs" of democracy.1 For the past several months, both the metaphorical and physical heart and lungs of our democracy have been threatened by the onset and continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this writing, over 182,000 people in the United States have lost their lives and 5.97 million have been infected with the disease.2 Practically every aspect of society has been upended by this unprecedented public health emergency, including the work of this Court.

To mitigate the dangers posed by the virus, the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of New York has issued a series of Administrative Orders that have modified court operations.3 Though the [*2]  Eastern District's two courthouses have remained open for business throughout the pandemic, certain restrictions have been imposed, including the continuation of all jury trials since March. Over time, as the rates of transmissions, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by the disease have decreased throughout the counties of the Eastern District, the Court has eased several of its restrictions. Informed by best practices recommended by medical experts and public health officials, the Chief Judge has implemented new safety measures within the District's courthouses, such as mandating temperature checks and symptom screenings for all those entering the buildings and requiring anyone inside to wear masks and practice social distancing, among other protocols. Many in-person proceedings have now resumed, including the empaneling of a grand jury.

The restoration of court operations has coincided with reopenings throughout the rest of society. Businesses and services that were previously closed because they were deemed "nonessential" have now resumed operating, such as zoos, shopping malls, gyms, and bowling alleys.4 At the same time that more and more of these "nonessential" entities [*3]  reopen, defendant Vincent J. Trimarco Jr. ("Defendant") argues that one of the most essential services in our society—criminal jury trials—must not proceed.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159180 *

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, -against- VINCENT J. TRIMARCO JR., Defendant.

Notice: Designated as not for publication on the slip opinion.

CORE TERMS

jurors, pandemic, adjournment, closure, attending, courtroom, masks, courthouse, indictment, partial, wearing, entrance, spectators, virus, accommodate, necessitate, logistical, resumed