The Honorable Barry Kamins (Ret.) discusses the significance of the changes, when trials are expected to resume and what they will look like.

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Covid-19 turned the world of criminal law upside down. Trials came to a standstill, tremendous backlogs mounted and thousands of cases were not presented to grand juries. 

In this podcast, Judge Barry Kamins (Ret) describes the pandemic’s immense challenges for prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys and especially defendants.

“I don’t think there’s any area of the law that has been affected as much as criminal law,” he says. The right to appear in court was relegated to appearances on computer screens. Lawyers could not visit clients in jail. And video conferences were a poor substitute. 

“I don’t anticipate trials will start taking place with any regularity until sometime next year,” Judge Kamins says. 

By then, some defendants will have been waiting in jail for almost two years. 

“That’s going to raise some constitutional questions,” he adds.

Once trials resume, other issues will loom. Witnesses and potential jurors may be reluctant to show up because of the pandemic. Courts will have to consider larger jury boxes or other accommodations. And years down the road, litigation may continue over cases dismissed because defendants awaited trial for so long or witnesses refused to appear in court.

“It’s going to take some planning by the court to be able to afford defendants the trials they are entitled to,” Judge Kamins says. 

Listen to the full interview with Judge Kamins.

About the Honorable Barry Kamins:

The Honorable Barry Kamins, a retired Supreme Court Justice, is a partner at Aidala, Bertuna and Kamins. Before his retirement he was Administrative Judge of the Criminal Court of New York City, Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters for the Second Judicial District and Chief of Policy and Planning for the New York Court System. He was appointed a Criminal Court Judge on September 11, 2008 and was elevated to Acting Supreme Court Justice on May 6, 2009. Judge Kamins was elected a State Supreme Court Justice on January 1, 2013.

Judge Kamins is an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn Law School where he teaches New York criminal practice. He is the author of New York Search and Seizure, New York Criminal Statutes and Rules (Graybook), and is one of the authors of New York Criminal Practice. He also writes the Criminal Law and Practice column for the New York Law Journal.

Judge Kamins is former President of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and formerly chaired the Advisory Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure for the Chief Administrative Judge of New York. He is a past Chair of the New York State Permanent Sentencing Commission. Judge Kamins is past Chairman of the Grievance Committee of the 2nd and 11th Judicial Districts. He is currently a member of the Board of Trustees on the Historical Society of the Courts of New York State. Judge Kamins chaired the State Bar’s Task Force on Wrongful Convictions and a former member of the Justice Task Force dealing with wrongful convictions.