Courts Practice Social Distance, Suspend Trials Due To Coronavirus Threat

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused courts to enforce their own version of social distance by suspending trials throughout the U.S. As of yesterday, more than 25 federal district courts had paused trials by jury. State courts around the country have been forced to implement the same measures to mitigate COVID-19 from entering their halls.

social distance - closed sign - shutterstock_1589773813Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In Monroe County, New York a murder trial has been put on hold due to the outbreak. The steps taken have put a hold on any non-essential trials and proceedings. In some cases, entire courts have been closed.

States have paused trials or at least begun to restrict court visitors. Earlier this week, the National Center for State Courts reported that Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri and Virginia had paused jury trials or limiting court activities. New Jersey, Florida and Massachusetts have also paused many jury trials. The four federal courthouses in the Northern District of California were the first mass courts to close on the federal level in response to COVID-19.

Social distance measures have taken place in all aspects of society, including self-quarantine, remote work from home, closed restaurants that switch to delivery and take-out operations, and more.

At the local level, trials have been suspended in several large cities, including Los Angeles County, California, where courts were closing for three days and then re-opening for essential matters; Cook County, Illinois, which is pausing new trials; and Washington, D.C., which is postponing matters that aren’t urgent.

ABA Journal noted that “federal courts that have suspended jury trials include the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California, the Southern District of California, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the District of Colorado, the District of Connecticut, the Northern District of Illinois (civil trials suspended), the Southern District of Indiana, the Northern District of Iowa, the Eastern District of Louisiana,” among others.

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