eDiscovery Daily Blog

Here is How Covid-19 is Impacting the Courts: eDiscovery Trends

I promise that every post for the next several weeks won’t be about the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.  But, this is one more trend worth noting.  To no one’s surprise, many Federal and State courts are also closing and delaying trials because of COVID-19.

According to ABA Journal (A slew of federal and state courts suspend trials or close for coronavirus threat, written by Debra Cassens Weiss), more than 25 federal district courts are pausing jury trials, following a trend that is still gaining ground in state courts.

Several federal appellate and trial-level courts are also barring people who don’t have official court business from entering courthouses. Some are asking pro se litigants with documents to leave them in drop boxes rather than enter the clerk’s office.

One federal courthouse in Rome, Georgia, was closed by court order last Tuesday after a court security officer was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, according to Courthouse News Service. The guard had worked the week before he was hospitalized even though he was feeling ill. Results of a COVID-19 test were pending as of Wednesday, still no news reported as of yesterday.

In California’s Northern District, all four federal courthouses were closed to the public, the first mass closing of federal courthouses since the judiciary began its response to the coronavirus threat.

Dozens of states are also pausing trials statewide or restricting court visitors, according to the National Center for State Courts, which is keeping a tally. The organization reported last Tuesday that seven additional states (Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri and Virginia) had issued or expanded orders pausing jury trials or restricting court functions in just the last 18 hours. Other states pausing many jury trials include New York, New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts.

Federal courts that have suspended jury trials include the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California, the Southern District of California, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the District of Colorado, the District of Connecticut, the Northern District of Illinois (civil trials suspended), the Southern District of Indiana, the Northern District of Iowa, the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Middle District of Louisiana, the Western District of Louisiana, the District of Maryland, the District of Massachusetts, the District of Minnesota, the Southern District of Mississippi, the District of Nebraska, the District of New Hampshire, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Western District of Pennsylvania, the District of Puerto Rico, the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Northern District of Texas, the Southern District of Texas, the Eastern District of Virginia, the Western District of Washington, the Southern District of West Virginia, the Eastern District of Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

COVID-19 has even delayed the Robert Durst murder trial.

The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts is keeping track of the orders in this chart.

Even though we may be seeing less case law for a while, there are still several eDiscovery related case law opinions and orders available for coverage since the start of 2020 – 469 in eDiscovery Assistant so far this year.  So, we still have plenty of case law to cover during the interim period.

Stay healthy out there!

So, what do you think?  How have court closures and trial delays affected your practice?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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