Thursday, April 30, 2020

Brainstorming jury trials when they resume

This post comes from an email by Kelvin Bohnet from the Office of the Capital Defender in Norfolk, Virginia, and was the product of soliciting ideas as to how to go forward with jury trials while the virus is with us.

Here is the list of ideas:
  • Written jury questionnaires to the greatest extent possible;
  • Individual or small panel voir dire;
  • Daily questionnaires/inquiry for empaneled jurors on health/family concerns;
  • Extra alternate jurors;
  • Expanded empaneled jury seating, either with extra well seating or in the gallery;
  • Larger juror deliberation chambers to facilitate spacing;
  • PPE (mask, gloves, etc.) for jurors, gallery, and courtroom personnel (consensus was that PPE for counsel and client may do more harm than good);
  • Temperature screening for anyone coming into court;
  • Full COVID-19 testing at some appropriate interval;
  • Disinfectant supplies/procedure for courtroom spaces (juror seating, counsel tables, podiums, witness stands, etc.);
  • Video/telephone witness testimony;
  • Shortened daily hours and/or more days "off" in multi-week proceedings;
  • Partial or full closure of the proceedings to the public.