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Attorneys Face Uncertainties and Challenges as Courts Resume In-Person Trials

Attorneys at The Legal Aid Society and defender organizations across the city are facing a complex balancing act between the ongoing COVID-19 safety concerns and their commitment to ensuring their clients’ rights and health are protected, as reported by the New York Law Journal.

This week marked the New York courts’ second attempt to launch in-person jury trials. A pilot period in the fall was cut off when case counts ticked up again.

Jamal Johnson, Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society’s Homicide Defense Task Force, said he understands why some clients would decide they want to go ahead with a trial amid the pandemic, especially if they’re incarcerated in conditions he described as “unimaginable.”

“From a trial lawyer standpoint, I don’t think it’s the optimal conditions to represent somebody at trial,” Johnson said. “It’s a trial-and-error situation and as an advocate, personally, I never want to engage in trial and error when the stakes are so high.”