Indiana Supreme Court suspends jury trials over COVID cases

Posted at 5:47 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 17:47:39-05

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court issued an order Monday suspending jury trials statewide until March 1 because COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

The court said “in-person jury trials pose an exceptional risk to everyone involved—even if every precaution is taken.”

“We must act now,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush said. “Since March, we have been balancing the requirement to keep courts open with the need for public health. The worsening pandemic creates urgency for us to halt jury trials as we maintain all other court operations.”

The Supreme Court has given local courts authority to adjust operations since the beginning of the public health emergency, most recently in a Nov. 10 order. This authority has included holding remote proceedings and streaming public hearings online. In addition, a task force released guidance on managing court proceedings as conditions change, guidance on safely resuming court operations, and protocols for mitigating in-court exposures.

Indiana’s coronavirus death toll has reached 6,840, including both confirmed and presumed infections.

By limiting non-essential in-court proceedings, Indiana courts can avoid intensifying the pandemic’s impact on our communities, the court said.