Coronavirus outbreak sidelines Florida jury trials until July

‘In-person jury trials pose a special hazard,’ chief justice says

Jury trials
Jury trials (Capitol News Service)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The coronavirus outbreak has sidelined Florida jury trials until at least early July and pushed back several other court deadlines.

Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady also said in an order Monday that more types of hearings and other court business would be conducted remotely. This includes non-jury trials if all parties agree, some arraignments, status and motion hearings, and pretrial conferences.

The Supreme Court issued a statement saying the virus outbreak has made jury trials unsafe at the moment. No jury trials will be held until at least July 2.

“In-person jury trials pose a special hazard because they can expose jurors and other courtroom participants to a risk of infection. Future extensions will be considered if needed,” the statement said.

For first-degree murder cases, the new order suspends until July 2 some requirements for in-person preliminary hearings and a requirement that defendants be automatically released from custody if prosecutors are unable to file charges within 40 days.

Canady said a working group formed to tackle these issues sill make suggestions for remote procedures that can continue even after the pandemic is over.