Federal courts are preparing for a slow reopening of courthouses for civil jury trials and other matters after weeks of being closed due to the ongoing health crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
Bloomberg Law reports courthouses in some states that have seen lower rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths are easing into new measures that will see measuring tape, disinfectant and extra jurors become the new norm in courtrooms for at least a little while.
Federal courts are re-opening in different parts of the country on a case-by-case basis. In Texas, a federal ivil trial was scheduled to begin in the first week of June, though the case was eventually settled. Other matters are scheduled to be heard before the court in July, according to Bloomberg.
That’s different from other parts of the country, including Connecticut where the federal court system has delayed all jury trials until September.
In California, routine court matters are being heard through phone and videoconferencing, including arraignments and most hearings. Jury trials are still weeks away at the earliest.
In the federal Eastern District of California, courthouses have been closed and jury cases postponed indefinitely, according to a recent order issued by Chief Judge Kimberly Mueller. The order affects six federal courthouses in Northern and Central California located in Sacramento, Modesto, Fresno, Redding, Bakersfield and Yosemite.
The emergency declaration signed by Mueller on May 13 said jurors won’t be called for service in either criminal or civil cases for the foreseeable future.
In the federal Northern District of California, Chief Judge Phyllis Hamilton also arranged for routine court matters to be conducted through videoconference. An emergency ordered issued in that district, which includes San Francisco, says no civil or criminal jury trials will take place until September 30, 2020 at the earliest.