Jury trials return to Grand in April


Jury trials are set to resume in the 14th Judicial District after a year of limited online court proceedings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In March 2020, Colorado’s courts were given directions from the state Supreme Court that barred courtroom proceedings from being in-person and put a hold on jury trials. On Friday, Chief Judge Michael O’Hara approved new protocols allowing jury trials to resume while maintaining coronavirus guidelines.

Five trials are scheduled for April in Grand County, and the court has already called for jurors twice. District court trials that require 12 jurors are still not permitted.

The new regulations require everyone in the courthouse to wear masks covering the nose and mouth, as well as maintaining six feet of distance from one another at all times while inside.

Judges will have discretion over whether the public can attend trials in-person or watch them online via WebEx.

A health check station will be set up outside the courthouse to ensure jurors have not had recent exposure and do not have a fever or other symptoms. Anyone who fails the check, refuses to comply or is vulnerable to the pandemic will have their jury duty rescheduled.

Jury pools will be limited to 24 candidates for County Court and 40 candidates for District Court. The pools will be spaced out among the courtrooms to ensure distance is maintained during jury orientation.

Courtrooms have been set up with plexiglass screens, distanced seating and microphones with disposable covers to allow for jury selections and trials.

During trials, the courtroom not being used will act as the jury deliberation and recess room. Gloves will be required to handle evidence, as well as written questions from the jury. Witnesses must wear masks walking to and from the stand, but will be given a clear mask when testifying.

Court bathrooms will be restricted to two people at a time. Water fountains will not be available, but jurors will receive bottled water. In addition, the court has implemented extensive sanitizing processes for jury selections and trials.

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