Some Madison County jury trials resume after being delayed by coronavirus

Tuesday marked the second day that some jury trials resumed since they were put on hold in March because of coronavirus.

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 5:49 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2020 7:32 PM

The Madison County Courthouse is closed after one of its busiest days in months.

Tuesday marked the second day that some jury trials resumed since they were put on hold in March because of coronavirus.

Madison County Presiding Judge Ruth Ann Hall said the courthouse is busier than it's been in nearly seven months. She said now that jury trials have started back up, their focus is to keep everyone safe as they begin to catch up on delayed cases.

"It's just the so many moving parts and trying to have so many courtrooms available for just one trial has been a little bit more complicated than we anticipated, but we were able to take care of it," she said.

Hall said Tuesday the courthouse was busy with early voters and jurors back in the building. She explained because of that, they're using different strategies to keep people spread out.

She explained potential jurors were sent a questionnaire with their summons to fill out online before showing up for court. She said they're already making adjustments to that process for the next group of jurors.

"It's difficult we had some jurors qualify online and were told to appear and they didn't and so that threw us into a little bit of a delay," she said.

Hall said very few courtrooms are big enough to accommodate a socially distanced jury and members of the public, so they've had to set up alternative courtrooms to stream what's going on live, that way anyone who wants to see the case has access to it.

"We've had to provide virtual access to family members, investigators and the media so that sometimes folks can't be in the courtroom because of our requirements, but we are making it available through attendance in another courtroom virtually," she said.

Now, additional Plexiglas barriers were installed in all the courtrooms and everyone is asked to sanitize their hands before entering a courtroom.

Not all jury trial cases started this week, and capital murder trials were postponed until 2021.

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