Expect the Unexpected

June 29, 2020

Audrey Priolo

Expect the Unexpected

by Audrey Priolo, Litigation Review Attorney

Attorneys nationwide are wondering what to expect next.  The twists and turns of the current pandemic create many questions and few answers.  As courts begin to resume operations, we are starting to see some trends, but attorneys have little clarity about the future.  Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana conducted a survey of attorneys licensed to practice before the court.  Here are some of the interesting responses:

When do you think in-person oral arguments should resume?

Fall 202032.44%
Summer 202026.77%
When there is a vaccine or the pandemic is otherwise considered over18.26%
Winter 20208.22%
Spring 20217.37%
Other5.90%
In-person oral arguments are no longer feasible due to COVID-191.02%

When do you think in-person jury trials should resume?

When there is a vaccine or the pandemic is otherwise considered over29.63%
Fall 202024.35%
Spring 202117.99%
Winter 202012.32%
Summer 20209.25%
Other5.39%
In-person oral arguments are no longer feasible due to COVID-191.08%

What precautions would make you feel comfortable participating in an in-person proceeding (jury trial, bench trial, hearing, etc.) during the current health crisis? (please check all that apply)

Hand sanitizer available at counsel table75.27%
Parties argue from counsel table68.41%
Limiting the number of attorneys at counsel table during trial40.90%
No physical exchange of documents during the proceedings37.38%
Parties wear face coverings during the proceedings33.52%
Witnesses wear face coverings during the proceedings25.47%
Having witnesses testify by video from another location in the courthouse17.81%
Other13.56%
None13.27%

During the current health crisis, are you considering or would you consider advising your client to waive the right to a jury trial in any of your cases?

Yes28.13%
No71.87%

Would you be open to conducting a remote jury trial (via video conferencing service) if the option was available?

Yes22.31%
No77.69%

While this survey only contains a snippet of the country, it is interesting to see the variety of outlook among attorneys.  We have also seen this variance among how judges are issuing orders.  I expect that there will continue to be a discrepancy across the country and even across individual courtrooms. As we continue this journey together, we will keep you apprised of trends.  We remain committed to providing support to help you along the way.

Audrey L. Priolo is a licensed California attorney with over 13 years of litigation and trial experience, who now works at American LegalNet as a Litigation Procedure Attorney.  Questions may be directed to apriolo@alncorp.com

Want to learn more?

Recommended Reading