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Monday, May 17, 2021

With COVID-19 cases rising, Delaware courts pause jury trials again

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Delaware Courts have halted jury trials again as the number of positive COVID-19 cases spike in Delaware, and health officials warn that they may rise even higher as people travel and gather for Thanksgiving.

The courts announced Monday that jury trials are postponed until after Jan. 1, but the courts will remain open for a limited number of visitors and staff, essentially returning to phase two of their four-part reopening plan.

“Based on the advice we are receiving, and what other state courts are doing, we think stepping back to Phase Two is the safest course of action until after the holiday season,” said Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. in a press release.

Staffing levels at state courthouses will drop to 50 percent and no more than 10 visitors will be allowed in each courtroom. Grand juries will continue, as will civil and criminal bench trials — during which only the judge hears evidence — but they are limited to only cases involving non-incarcerated people. 

 

The courts will also handle emergency cases for both civil and criminal matters.

In most cases, this means Delaware Courts will continue to conduct business through video or audio conferencing technology and employees will work remotely, the press release said.

Read Seitz’s order here

With all kinds of safety measures in place, the courts had reopened for jury trials Oct. 5. Only one has taken place, in Kent County. New Castle County officials expected to have another this week 

Among the safety measures installed were thermal imaging cameras that take a visitor’s temperature as that person goes through the security line to enter a courthouse. 

 

 

 

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