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Order opens door for future jury trials

The order is tied to courts moving into what is known as “Phase 2” operations.

After placing a blanket prohibition on jury trials because of the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady has issued an order that could lead to the resumption of jury trials based on local circumstances.

Canady initially suspended criminal and civil jury trials in March and subsequently extended the suspension through July 17. But he issued an order Tuesday setting up a process that would replace the blanket suspension.

The order is tied to courts moving into what is known as “Phase 2” operations, which would involve limited personal contact and use of protective measures. Under the order, criminal and civil jury trials will remain suspended until 30 days after a circuit’s chief judge has determined that the circuit or a county has made the transition to Phase 2.

A news release from the Supreme Court said the order would let “individual counties or local trial-court circuits return to in-person jury trials at different times based on local conditions.”

The order, which came after a report by a workgroup created in April to study pandemic-related issues, also includes a process for excusing jurors if, for example, they are at a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

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Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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