The wheels of justice are slowing down around the world as court systems based on open, public hearings deal with an outbreak that dictates the opposite.LitigationLiabilityLegislation & Regulation
In Connecticut, where the governor has declared a public health emergency, the federal courts on Wednesday ordered the suspension of all jury selections and jury trials scheduled to begin in the next month.
In his order, U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill noted that “trial jurors often have to work in close quarters to hear the evidence and deliberate following presentation of the evidence.” This went against the recommended precautions to avoid exposure to the virus, the judge said.
The Connecticut order follows a similar one last week by the federal courts in Washington state, which has been hit especially hard by the outbreak. Other U.S. courts have also delayed proceedings or instituted measures like temperature checks.
Such precautions are certain to put great pressure on the U.S. legal system. About 150,000 criminal and civil trials occur each year across state and federal courts, according to the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts. Trials that use jurors, who are selected from a larger pool summoned to attend selections, will be particularly affected.