The Kenosha County Circuit Court will resume conducting jury trials on Aug. 31, with safety protocols in place, Chief Judge Jason Rossell and Clerk of Circuit Court Rebecca Matoska-Mentink announced today.
Remote, video conferenced hearings will continue to be held for most other court activities until the COVID-19 emergency ends, Rossell said.
While the court has remained open throughout the public health emergency, jury trials have been on hold since March.
“In light of the health crisis that going on in our country, it is important for the courts to be responsive to keep jurors, staff, litigants, and general public safe and protect the constitutional rights of citizens,” Rossell said. “This plan developed with the various stakeholders is designed to provide for jury trials while continuing to follow the guidance from health professionals.”
As part of this plan, only certain courtrooms will be used to ensure that social distancing is possible during trials. Some jury selection and trial activity will also occur in the Kenosha County Center at highways 45 and 50 in Bristol.
Prospective jurors will have their temperatures taken with a no-touch thermometer, and wearing of masks will be required for everyone in the court area, including jurors. Courtrooms and other areas accessed by juries will be thoroughly cleaned each evening after the courts recess.
Rossell said trials will be conducted expeditiously, with litigants required to be prepared to finish trials with minimal delays. Lunches will be provided to jurors during their jury service to limit travel in and out of the Courthouse and to reduce the number of breaks in trial.
Those called for jury service who have been diagnosed by a physician as having COVID-19 within the past 30 days or are actively caring for someone who has the virus are asked to contact the jury clerk to make alternate jury service arrangements.
Also, those who are over the age of 65 and/or have a serious underlying health condition may request to be excused from jury service during the pandemic.
“While it is important that prospective jurors appear for jury service on the date and time they are summoned, we are mindful of these challenging times and will work with people to take reasonable precautions to maintain their health,” Matoska-Mentink said.