Those awaiting a jury trial in North Carolina are going to have to keep waiting.
Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court Cheri Beasley on Monday, Aug. 24 extended most of the directives that have shut down much of the legal system in the state.
And those waiting for a jury trial will have to wait at least another month. Emergency Directive 22 states that senior resident Superior Court judges are required to submit plans for the resumption of jury trials no later than Sept. 30. The plans once submitted will have to be approved, which pushes any jury trials into October at the earliest.
But according to the outline from Beasley, setting up a courtroom for a jury trial is going to be no simple task.
The plan has to include “a plan for conducting trials with social distancing in the courtroom for all court participants, including the jury, and in the deliberation room.”
There is a reason why the jury box is in the front of the room. Jurors have to be able to hear all the testimony at the trial, which in many courtrooms in North Carolina is extremely hard to do from the seats for the public.
The directive does state that the jury trials can be held in an “alternate facility,” which seems likely since keeping everyone at a trial six feet apart is going to take a lot of space.
If they ever take place, the appeals from these spaced out jury trials, should be interesting.
One bit of good news for the romantically inclined is that, according to the press release, “Magistrates must continue to perform marriages.” But it does state that the hours and times that marriages are conducted may be restricted and that appointments may be required. So couples who run down to the court house on whim to get hitched may find themselves back at home still single.