Jury trials here to be modified as precautions against covid
In anticipation of upcoming civil and criminal jury trials in Ozark County, the 44th Judicial Circuit recently released guidelines on how the proceedings will be modified to help take precautions against the spread of the covid-19 virus.
“Our courts now have several cases, both civil and criminal, which must be decided by a jury trial. Such trials are guaranteed by our Constitution, and as one court recently stated, our Constitution ‘is not suspended when the government declares a disaster,’” Circuit Judge Craig Carter said in a press release.
The press release indicates that instead of seating dozens of jurors in close quarters in the courtroom for jury selection, the selection procedure will instead be held inside a church with a large area that allows all potential jurors to social distance during the jury-screening process. The trials will be held in the courtroom with jurors socially distanced.
Temperature screenings will be conducted upon each person’s entrance to any buildings, and everyone is required to wear a mask. The court will provide a mask if a juror or other individual arrives without one.
Courtroom doors will be locked, and surfaces will be frequently cleaned and sanitized. HEPA air filtration systems have been installed in both courtrooms and jury rooms, and a sound system was installed in the main courtroom to ensure that all jurors can hear the proceedings.
Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the building, and a larger break room for jurors will be provided, so individuals can social distance.
Carter says the court is also moving court personnel between counties during jury trials to help with personnel flow.
“For myself and all of the courthouse staff, I would like to thank our citizens for their understanding during this covid-19 pandemic. Please know that we are doing everything we can to both safeguard our citizens as well as to ensure our citizens have timely access to the justice system,” Carter wrote.
For more information, call the Ozark County Circuit Clerk’s office at 417-679-4232.