BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — This week, felony hearings and pleas in criminal cases will resume in Erie County.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn made the announcement on Tuesday morning, as western New York begins Phase One of New York’s reopening schedule.
All non-essential court proceedings were adjourned on March 16. Flynn’s office says these proceedings will resume in a virtual courtroom setting, the same way essential procedures like arraignments and bail motions have continued.
“While we cannot return to in-person court proceedings at this time, I am pleased to announce that we can continue to move these criminal cases forward while maintaining social distancing practices,” Flynn said. “My office will continue to investigate and prosecute these matters while doing our best to ensure the health and safety of our victims, witnesses, court staff, and members of law enforcement.”
The District Attorney’s office will coordinate with judges and defense attorneys to schedule virtual court appearances. Evidence will be electronically sent to judges presiding over matters.
To ensure safety, all people in the Erie County Court building must wear a mask.
All witnesses must gather in the Grand Jury entrance where they’ll be assigned a seat. Only an assistant district attorney and the witness will be in the conference room within the District Attorney’s office during the virtual proceeding.
Conference rooms used for felony hearing testimonies will be sanitized after each use.