Trial During COVID A Look Inside Judge Albright’s Trial Procedures

On September 23, 2020, the parties in MV3 v. Roku had their final pretrial conference with Judge Albright before the October 5th trial setting—scheduled to be Judge Albright’s first-ever patent trial since taking the bench. During the conference, Judge Albright laid out his modified trial procedures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few noteworthy takeaways:

Safety Precautions:

  • No more than three individuals can be seated at counsel table.
  • During bench conferences, only one lawyer per side is permitted to approach the bench, and both attorneys and Judge Albright will wear masks during the bench conference.
  • The seven-person jury will be spaced at least six feet apart and will wear face masks, plus optional face shields if individual jurors prefer to do so.
  • The first row of the courtroom will be reserved for the parties involved in the case.
  • The gallery is open to the public as long as social distancing is maintained. The Court noted there are (approximately) 48 spots available for the public.
  • Attorneys will use hand-held microphones throughout the trial.

Trial Procedures:

  • Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske will conduct Voir Dire the Thursday before trial begins. Going forward, Judge Manske will pick most of the juries for Judge Albright.
  • The jury will be shown the Federal Judicial Center video on the patent process.
  • Witnesses do not have to attend in-person. The parties will provide the technology to allow for remote testimony. At least one witness per side will not be attending in person. Judge Albright also stated that witnesses testifying remotely must do so before a neutral backdrop.
  •  Both Plaintiff and Defendant have 15 hours to present their case to the jury, not including Voir Dire, opening statement, and closing statement.
  • The jury will be provided pen and paper for note-taking during trial.
  • Here’s an interesting one: Parties do NOT need to share PowerPoint slides/presentations before opening or closing arguments. Judge Albright also mentioned parties objecting during opening or closing “better be right.”
  • Judge Albright requested that the parties provide the Court with three lists of exhibits. The first list of exhibits are those that are agreed-to and will be offered into evidence. The second list of exhibits are those that are not agreed-to and might be objected to during trial. Finally, the last list of exhibits are those that must be ruled on before they are presented because of prejudicial content.