Jury trial activity slowly resuming during COVID-19 crisis

6 hours ago

The legal system is slowly phasing back in jury trial activity in civil and criminal cases, according to Craig Doran, administrative judge for the Seventh Judicial District, which includes Monroe County.

Doran says Chief Judge Janet Difiore asked him to lead the efforts to restore in-person operations, and on Monday, jury selection for a criminal trial was taking place in Judge Thomas Moran's court.

“And we expect toward the end of September in Monroe County, we’ll begin in a couple of civil matters,” he says.  “Later in October, we expect to begin on a more widespread basis, regularly scheduling both criminal and civil trials.”

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Doran says the legal system recognizes that many people live with or are in contact with someone in high-risk categories with respect to COVID-19, or are in a high-risk category themselves.

He says as a result, the court system is liberally entertaining requests from both groups to be excused from jury service and have their obligation postponed, generally for a year.

Doran says if someone has a concern about jury duty and COVID-19, they should call the number on their jury summons if they want to request a postponement.

“I would also emphasize that if you are in any way not feeling well or have had contact with anyone who’s tested positive, you should certainly not come to the courthouse, and you should call the number on your summons and let them know,” he says.

Doran adds the court system is taking all the necessary precautions recommended by public health officials, and going beyond what is required to ensure safety in their buildings.