I-TEAM: Coronavirus pandemic changing how courts operate

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – COVID-19 has caused many different changes, including how  he Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court operates.

Judge Maureen Clancy has been presiding over a bench trial this week. She and everyone in her courtroom are wearing face coverings. There is also plexiglass on the front of the judge’s bench, and in between attorneys and their clients.

“All the safety precautions are in place ,” Clancy said prior to the start of the trial Friday morning. “Everyone has hand sanitizer, the wipes, gloves, and  face masks .”

Judges say they are taking every precaution they can as they slowly reopen the courts.

“We were doing many hearings online,” said Cuyahoga County Administrative Judge Brendan Sheehan. “Now we have a bench trial and starting August 10 we will have jury trials. Everyone that comes to the Justice Center will have their temperature taken.  It’s ironic that we are talking about jury trials and yet the pandemic has reached high numbers. Unfortunately, we have to be ready because of the constitutional rights of the defendants. “

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Administrator Greg Popovich says county trade unions designed and installed plexiglass barriers that will be between jurors.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure everyone stays safe,” Sheehan said.

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