BOULDER, Colo., July 14, 2020 — The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) released a statement on Monday, July 6, 2020, in support of maintaining future in-person jury trials and other adversarial proceedings with approved medical safeguards. In the statement, NITA maintains that in-person bench and jury trials are designed to seek and reveal the truth in a public forum and that virtual or remote proceedings deprives the litigant, judge, and jury from using all of their senses to weigh the evidence, thereby diminishing the parties’ ability to have a fair and impartial outcome that is supported by the Constitution.
“As trial lawyers, we are becoming increasingly concerned about the possible loss of the traditional in-person jury trial to the ‘virtual trial,’” says Ben Rubinowitz, Chair of NITA’s Board of Trustees and managing partner at Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf. “For well over 100 years, the in-person jury trial has served to ensure justice in both criminal and civil trials. It is unfortunate that based on current health concerns stemming from COVID-19 and the temporary needs of the courts, some would permanently trade the long-established guarantees of constitutionally protected rights in exchange for the perceived speed, cost, and convenience of a virtual trial.” Mr. Rubinowitz further states, “I am proud of the NITA Board for recognizing the importance of in-person jury trials and ensuring that the time-honored tradition of in-person trials continues in our country.”
In the statement, NITA recognizes the need to move to online and virtual proceedings during the pandemic and will continue to train attorneys accordingly. Pamela Bresnahan, Chair-elect of NITA’s Board of Trustees and partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP states, “NITA has been and will continue to be the premier place to learn trial advocacy. While in person trials are always preferable, we commit to providing virtual training for lawyers during the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 pandemic. And we also commit to return to in-person training as soon as it is safe to do so.”