SJC order addresses in-person jury trials

Boston Statehouse
mass supreme judicial courthouse_345510

BOSTON (SHNS) – Six-person criminal and civil jury trials will be conducted in-person at select locations, with priority given to criminal cases where the defendant is in custody, under an order regarding court operations that takes effect on Monday, March 1.

The Supreme Judicial Court announced its order on Wednesday, saying it will replace an order that was issued on Sept. 17, 2020. The high court said court operations will “largely remain the same” under the new order, except for the transition from Phase 1 to a modified Phase 2 of the gradual resumption of jury trials.

Phase 2 is expected to last for two months, and the cases that will be tried during the phase, as well as the locations, will be determined by the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the chief justices of the applicable Trial Court departments, after consulting with regional administrative justices and first justices in each court.

“As throughout the pandemic, however, all plans and expectations may be adjusted at any time in the ongoing effort to balance the safety of everyone who enters a courthouse with the fundamental constitutional right to a trial by jury,” the SJC said.

Generally speaking, courts in the state will continue to conduct most business virtually and courthouses will continue to be physically open to the public for limited purposes.

Each trial court will continue to post notices on the court system’s webpage identifying whether matters are being handled virtually or in-person.

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