Blue Earth County joins 5 others in criminal jury trial pilot program
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — The Minnesota Judicial Council announced Monday that Blue Earth and Scott Counties were approved to begin its Criminal Jury Trial Pilots program.
Blue Earth and Scott Counties join Hennepin, McLeod, Olmsted and Ramsey Counties in participating in the pilot program, with the latter four counties being approved on June 3.
“We are committed to ensuring courts are doing everything we can to make the criminal jury trial experience safe. As pilots have progressed we have been impressed with the commitment to duty shown by Minnesotans during these turbulent times,” said Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea.
Jurors in Blue Earth County should respond to their jury summons as required.
Each juror will be provided a paper mask upon arrival at the courthouse each day, but jurors may also supply their own face masks if they wish to do so.
Social distancing guidelines developed by the Minnesota Department of Health will be followed inside each courthouse, including when and where jurors assemble, participate in voir dire, listen to proceedings, deliberate and move throughout the courthouse. Additional guidance will be available in each county courthouse, including how to follow social distancing guidelines in seating and elevator use.
Furthermore, partitions and physical barriers have been established, where necessary, in each courthouse to ensure that traffic flow and interactions are safely taking place.
Hennepin, McLeod, Olmsted and Ramsey Counties were able to begin the pilot program on June 3 after demonstrating to the Minnesota Judicial Council that each county could comply with the standards and expectations required.
Courts seeking to begin a pilot in their respective county require them to adhere to the Minnesota Judicial Branch COVID-19 preparedness plan, restarting jury trial during COVID-19 plan and the locally approved jury trial pilot checklist.
“The Minnesota Judicial Council will review the evaluation of all approved Criminal Jury Trial Pilots in order to understand the juror, staff, litigant, attorney, witness, and judicial officer experience. Pilot counties are meeting important milestones already, as juries reached verdicts in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties last week," Gildea added.
County courthouses are allowed to reopen under this program because Executive Order No. 20-63 exempted the Minnesota Judicial Branch from the limits on gatherings.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch adds that other than the counties approved to conduct the pilots, no other jury trials will be held in criminal cases before July 6 and no jury trials will be held in civil cases before Sept. 1.
Visit the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Jury Service webpage for additional information.
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