After being put on hold for some time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, jury trials will be allowed to resume in Warren County later this month.
Clerk of Superior Court Lisa Blalock indicated that trials may resume on Jan. 18. Because that date falls on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the next date available for court is Tuesday, Jan. 19.
However, Blalock said last week that the date of the next jury trial in Warren County is uncertain at this time.
An administrative order outlining procedures for resuming jury trials in the county went into effect on Jan. 1. That order directs security personnel to screen potential jurors for COVID-19 symptoms each day as they enter the courthouse. Security personnel will ask health screening temperatures and check temperatures. Anyone with a fever or who is positive for COVID-19 symptoms based upon the answers to screening questions will not be allowed in the courthouse. All potential jurors must wear face coverings.
The administrative order also directs security personnel to screen court personnel, attorneys, witnesses and parties involved in the trial process daily before they enter the courthouse. These individuals must also wear face coverings in the courthouse.
The order states that any person coming to court, including jurors, defendants, attorneys, witnesses, judges and other courtroom personnel, must be healthy and not symptomatic. If someone becomes symptomatic, tests positive for COVID-19 or has known exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, the following procedures will be followed:
• All information regarding the person, person’s symptoms, test results or exposure shall immediately be reported to the presiding judge, the senior resident superior court just and the COVID-19 coordinator for the county.
• The presiding judge, the senior resident superior court judge and COVID-19 coordinator for the county shall, as soon as possible, confer with the public health director with regard to the individual, as well as the symptoms, test results and exposure details, and shall thereafter institute the safety recommendations of the public health director resulting from the consultation.
Blalock said that there will be limited space in the courtroom for the general public, who will be required to sit in marked spaces to allow for social distancing. Members of the public will also be screened for COVID-19 before they can enter the courthouse and will be required to wear face coverings.