Since the 1600s, if you were accused of a crime in Massachusetts, whether it was an English Colony or a Commonwealth in the Union of the United States of America, you have been guaranteed the right to have a trial by a jury of your peers. However, since March 16, 2020, that right has been effectively suspended due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this, people who are presumed to be innocent have been forced to sit on the sidelines and wait for the resumption of jury trials. Some of these people have waited at home. Others have waited in a jail cell. Some have waived their right to a jury trial, and others have taken a plea – simply to move on with their lives.
In early February 2021, Attorney James G. DeGiacomo was approached by the court to see if he would be willing to patriciate in the second jury trial in Massachusetts where Zoom was to be utilized to pick the jury. Specifically, the jurors, in this case, would have the option to report to jury duty either via Zoom or in person. Then, once the jury was selected, the jurors would appear in person the following day to hear the trial.
Like many attorneys in Massachusetts, Attorney DeGiacomo has recognized the difficulty with picking a jury during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the size of the courthouses in the Commonwealth and the need for social distancing. Due to this, Attorney DeGiacomo was immediately intrigued and excited to embrace technology to ensure that his client could exercise their right to a jury trial.
The case in question was one where Attorney DeGiacomo’s client (like so many others) was eager to have a jury trial date but had been unable to have one due to the cancellation of all jury trials.
In what was a fairly uneventful day of jury voir dire, a jury of eight people (which included two alternate jurors) was chosen for the trial. Despite a delay to a software issue, Attorney DeGiacomo believes that the process of choosing the jury was a complete success. The following day, all jurors arrived in person to hear the trial. Just as people have done for the last 400 years in Massachusetts.
Unlike many others, Attorney DeGiaomo’s client was able to bring his criminal case to a successful conclusion as opposed to having to wait for the pandemic to subside and for life to get back to normal.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorneys James G. DeGiacomo and Sergey Mikhlin have and will continue, to work with the courts, and embrace technology to ensure that his client’s rights are protected and that everyone is able to stay as safe as possible during these challenging times.