Jury trials to resume in Iowa by mid-September

The Linn County Courthouse on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)
The Linn County Courthouse on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Brian Tabick/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 10:32 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa’s highest court issued guidance on the resumption of jury trials in the state, outlining a series of restrictions and precautions to put in place in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Larson Christensen issued the more than nine-page order on Wednesday, which covered various guidelines for jury summonsing, jury selection, trials, and deliberations. Most of the protocols parallel those for the general public, including steps to increase social distancing, limit the number of people in a courthouse at a time, and other related restrictions.

Special questions related to coronavirus will be added to juror questionnaires, including whether a prospective juror may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, if they have received a positive test result, whether they have been exposed to someone with the disease, if they are a member of or live with someone who is in a high-risk population for the virus, or if they are afraid of being in a large group even if socially distanced with facial coverings.

The order said that courts should finish the implementation of the guidelines by September 14 in order to resume trials.

The recommendations were put together by the Jumpstart Jury Trials Task Force, which included judges, attorneys, court personnel, county officials, and public health experts.

More information can be found at the Iowa Judicial Branch’s website.

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