The Indiana Supreme Court handed down an Order Suspending Jury Trials statewide until March 1, 2021, citing the need for drastic measures as COVID-19 continues to surge. In-person jury trials pose an exceptional risk to everyone involved—even if every precaution is taken.
“We have hope that 2021 will bring improved conditions. But hoping is not enough. There is more we must do, and we must act now,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush said about the Court’s latest action to address the pandemic. “Since March, we have been balancing the requirement to keep courts open with the need for public health. The worsening pandemic creates urgency for us to halt jury trials as we maintain all other court operations, including through remote proceedings.”
The Supreme Court has given local courts authority to adjust operations since the beginning of the public health emergency, most recently in a November 10 order. This authority has included holding remote proceedings and streaming public hearings online. In addition, a Resuming Operations Task Force released guidance on managing court proceedings as conditions change, guidance on safely resuming court operations, and protocols for mitigating in-court exposures.
Despite all the measures that have been taken, more than 6,000 Hoosiers have died from the virus, and Indiana has the fourth highest daily cases per 100,000 residents in the nation. By limiting non-essential in-court proceedings, Indiana courts can avoid intensifying the pandemic’s impact on our communities.
More information about the judicial branch response to COVID-19 can be found at courts.in.gov/covid.