When I was crafting my previous BLT column, COVID-19 was being talked about, but that was about it—talk. The time was late February. I recall that week clearly. There was no round-the-clock news coverage, no social distancing, and no stay-at-home orders in place. I distinctly recall speaking at a local bar association luncheon event. There were the usual tables with rounds of eight, elbow-to-elbow seating, conversations abounding. Fast-forward 19 days later, New Jersey is in a public health emergency. Fast-forward seven more days, the Supreme Court of New Jersey is issuing orders and notices to the bar at light speed. Jury trials are canceled until further notice, in-person court appearances are canceled, discovery deadlines are extended and relaxed, certain inmates in county jails are ordered released, and settlement conferences are canceled. Trial courts and pending litigation were unfurling and hurling at light speed to a place unknown.
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