Whatcom County Superior Court will resume 12-person jury trials starting March 15, according to a Wednesday afternoon press release from Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Rob Olson.
Judge Robert Olson’s March 3 news release said “extensive new” safety precautions have been put in place to protect the safety of jurors and the public in order for trials to resume.
“The suspension of jury trials was needed to protect the public and court staff, and it gave us the opportunity to redesign our jury processes with the input of public health experts, trial participants, and other stakeholders . . . Now it is critical that we re-start jury trials, which are key to the fair administration of justice.” ~Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson.
Prospective jurors will have their temperature checked and be screened for health problems on arrival. Safe distancing will be maintained during the selection process and no food, drink or reading materials will be provided for safety.
Just one trial will be conducted at a time using both large courtrooms to allow for safe distancing, and all trial participants will have to wear masks.
Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 or other health problems will be excused from jury duty.
My opinion? Excellent news. Conducting jury trials during the Coronavirus Pandemic has posed significant practical and legal challenges for courts. Hopefully, our courtroom safeguards will help chart a trustworthy path to safely resuming jury trials soon.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.