States, cities across U.S. begin suspending jury trials over coronavirus

March 16 (UPI) -- A number of municipalities across the United States on Monday will begin suspending jury trials as a measure to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease.

States and cities have already barred large social gatherings to keep the spread at a minimum. The same logic applies now to parts of the justice system.


One of the largest jurisdictions that will delay trials beginning Monday is Los Angeles County Superior Court, the largest trial court in the nation. It will begin "scaling down operations" to "achieve social distancing in all 38 courthouses," Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile said in a statement.

No new jurors will be summoned for any civil or criminal jury trials for the next 30 days, and judges in any ongoing trial "may exercise his or her discretion" to continue or declare a mistrial.

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The county's decision will suspend the high-profile murder trial of Robert Durst, a multimillionaire accused of killing Susan Berman in 2000 over the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen. Durst has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were the subject of the HBO mini-series The Jinx.


In addition to Los Angeles County, several states have also suspended trials, including Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut and Delaware. A number of local jurisdictions like Dallas and San Antonio have also made similar moves.

The Iowa Supreme Court on Saturday ordered a postponement of all new criminal jury trials until April 20 while allowing ongoing trials to continue. Civil jury trials were postponed until May 4.

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New Jersey Chief Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner has suspended all new jury trials until further notice as part of a package of measures being taken by the state. In Ohio, both Hamilton County in Cincinnati and Cuyahoga County in Cleveland suspended proceedings following a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to halt federal trials.

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