Coronavirus: Jury trials are nixed for now

  • Jury trials are on hold statewide due to COVID-19, the Florida Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday.
    Jury trials are on hold statewide due to COVID-19, the Florida Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday.
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The Columbia County Courthouse won’t see any jury trials for a while. 

Jury trials are on hold statewide due to COVID-19, the Florida Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday. The order is effective through April 17. 

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady also released a new video address to Florida’s legal community and the public about the pandemic’s impact on the state’s justice system.

“We are all facing an unprecedented challenge,” Canady said in the video. “The pandemic is now affecting everyone. We are living our lives in a way that none of us would have contemplated a few short weeks ago. And none of us can count on things getting easier any time soon. We face many tough choices on the path ahead of us.”

“The pandemic presents an extraordinary challenge for the legal system,” he continued. “We depend on human interaction to achieve justice under the law. We are working to maintain that interaction while also minimizing the spread of the virus. I am confident that the courts, the legal profession, and all of our partners are up to the task.”

The March 24 order also extends an earlier suspension of speedy trial rules and related court procedures and directs all state courts to cancel or postpone court proceedings other than essential and critical ones.

It orders other measures designed to reduce the need for in-person contact in court proceedings as much as possible, including suspending some notarization requirements.

In addition, the chief justice may extend or change emergency orders in the weeks ahead as needed to address the changing emergency.

Canady’s video and all other Florida court COVID emergency orders are available on the Florida Supreme Court website: floridasupremecourt.org/Emergency.