Cuyahoga County to soon start holding jury trials again

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — It’s been six months since jurors entered any of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas courtrooms, but that is expected to change next week.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the court stopped having jury trials in March.

“We wanted to make sure everyone stayed as safe as possible,” said Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Brendan Sheehan.

Sheehan said since that time, court officials have made several changes to keep jurors, and others safe during court proceedings.

“We  have had the department of health come in and look at the procedures and policies and the set-up we have in our courtroom,” Sheehan told FOX 8. “They approved our procedures.  We really want to make the community know that when they receive their jury summons they are going to be safe when they come to our courthouse. “

Anyone receiving  a jury summons will call the court the night before they are scheduled to appear to find out if they are needed.

When jurors do report  they will  go to the Global Center Of Health Innovation across the street from the court,  so they will have more room to social distance.  

“There are large rooms for them to be in at the Global Center so they properly social distance,” the judge said. “When they come over here for court, they will go through security and have their temperature taken and be asked a series of COVID-19 related questions before they are brought to the courtroom. When they show up they will be given a mask, hand sanitizer and if they are selected for the jury they will be given a bag with all the PPE.”

The judge said the courtrooms that will be holding jury trials, have been modified to meet COVID-19 safety recommendations. These courtrooms will have plexiglass in between jurors’ seats, and less seats in the courtroom for spectators. 

“Jury duty is probably one of the most important things someone can do as a member of our community especially at this time,” Sheehan said.  “Jury trials  are needed.  There are people waiting in jail  and there are victims waiting for their cases to be heard. “

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