From installing courtroom plexiglass barriers to having jurors sit spaced apart in a huge courtroom gallery to issuing a defendant and his lawyer in-court cellphones for communication, a judge and other New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting panelists on Wednesday discussed how they navigated and pushed their way through the only Queens Supreme Court criminal trial to take place since the pandemic emerged.

In a two-hour discussion entitled “Conducting a Jury Trial in the Shadow of COVID-19,” the panelists—which included the November trial’s presiding judge, his law clerk, the trial’s defense attorney and its prosecutor—talked about the myriad adjustments they made before and during the nearly weeklong trial, and about what disadvantages they thought accrued to them because of the conditions. The defense lawyer also discussed why having the jurors wearing protective masks may have actually created an advantage during voir dire.

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