Jury Trials Are Slowly Starting To Return Across The State
TWO HARBORS, Minn. – The global pandemic put a pause on jury trials and in-person court proceedings in Minnesota.
These trials are slowly beginning to resume across the state including in the Northland, as courts are taking precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.
The last time there was an in-person hearing with a jury at the Lake County Courthouse was back in March before the outbreak of COVID-19.
Since then, about 1,500 virtual trials a week were conducted for cases such as civil disputes and juvenile and family hearings.
But further holding off on trials that may require a jury would be violating a person’s civil liberties.
“The sixth amendment of the U.S. Constitution says in criminal prosecutions the accused has a right to a speedy and public trial, so it’s not an option,” said Chief Judge Michael Cuzzo.
A few new practices have been put in place to safely bring back jurors.
every courthouse in the sixth district has been restructured including moving jury boxes to allow for social distancing.
Also only up to 15 jurors are allowed for each hearing.
Although it is a civic obligation, court officials say a juror willing to serve is essential as the district moves forward with these types of trials.
Criminal jury trials in the sixth district have already been in progress since mid-August.