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Federal, state courts postpone many proceedings due to COVID-19 pandemic

The State of New York court system as well as the United States Western District of New York courts have made adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the suspension of jury trials.

Federal courts

The federal court adjustments by the Western District of New York courts, which include Rochester and Buffalo, made via a general order filed Friday by Chief Judge Frank Geraci, include:

• Civil jury trials are "continued" – which means suspended – for 60 days.

• Judges, if they find it appropriate, may adjourn criminal proceedings for 60 days.

• Grand jury selections are also suspended for 60 days.

• Judges "are encouraged to reduce personal appearances as much as practicable," Geraci's order read.

• No naturalization proceedings will be conducted in the courthouses of the Western District for 60 days; the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has been given the authority to perform administrative naturalization ceremonies for the next 60 days.

The Buffalo and Rochester courthouses remain open for electronic and in-person filings and "the public is encouraged to continue utilizing court services while following all applicable public health guidelines."

State courts

• Civil jury trials in which opening statements have not commenced are postponed until further notice. Civil jury trials which have already commenced will continue to their conclusion.

• Criminal jury trials shall continue where the juries have been sworn in; no new criminal jury trials shall be commenced.

• Jury selection in civil and criminal trial matters is suspended.

• Existing grand juries will continue, upon consultation of the appropriate district attorney and judge. No new grand juries shall be empaneled "absent exceptional circumstances."

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