Mass. Jury Trials Set To Resume

Jury trials are scheduled to resume in some Massachusetts courthouses on Jan.12.

Trials are scheduled in Lowell and Plymouth District Courthouses on Tuesday. They're the first since the Trial Court stopped empaneling jurors at the start of the pandemic in March.

Nine courthouses will be used for jury trials, based on their ventilation and layout. In July, the Trial Court's Jury Management Advisory Committee has issued a set of recommendations to hold the trials safely, including social distancing, wearing masks and keeping people physically distant. The public will be allowed to attend hearings in person and remotely. The plans will be revised as needed, according to the report.

"The court system will need to review and learn from the gradual rollout of jury trial plans, which should be recognized as an on-going process," the committee said in the report. "This report includes recommendations for on-going communication, evaluation, and adjustment as necessary. "

This is the first phase of resuming jury trials, which is expected to last about two months before it can be expanded.

The trials were scheduled to resume in September, but that was postponed four times because of the virus. The Trial Court estimates there is a backlog of some 3,700 cases to be heard by juries.

Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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