De Rouw v. International Sustainable Development Institute, Inc. (D. Mass. 19-cv-10198).

Judge Stearns sua sponte entered an order offering to convert this copyright infringement case from a jury trial to a bench trial.  He noted that, while trials have resumed in Massachusetts, jury trials in civil cases will not likely resume until “well into 2021” due to the shortage of properly-fitted courtrooms and the need to give priority to criminal cases.  He indicated that bench trials can begin much sooner, with the ability to take evidence and witnesses both virtually and in person as needed and the scheduling flexibility that a bench trial would provide.  He further indicated that bench trials would be scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis, suggesting that he is making a similar offer in other suitable cases before him.

I have experienced similar comments regarding converting from jury to bench trials from other Massachusetts judges, without the suggestion having been formalized into an order. If you have a civil case pending, you may want to consider the bench trial option with the Court.

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