SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia Chief Justice Harold D. Melton Friday issued an order lifting the suspension of jury trials in Georgia, “effective immediately.”
With Friday’s order, trial courts may resume jury trials.
The Chief Justice first announced the Statewide Judicial Emergency on March 14, 2020 due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
Since then, Georgia courts have remained open, but jury trials were initially suspended due to the number of people required to gather at courthouses.
In October, Chief Justice Melton lifted that suspension of jury trials. In December, he prohibited them again due to a significant increase in coronavirus cases.
Officials say a recent decline in COVID-19 cases led to Friday’s decision.
According to the Chief Justice, rigorous safety protocols have been put into place to ensure the safety of jurors.
He says protocols include pre-screening for health risks of all parties, temperature checks, masks, plexiglass barriers, touch-free evidence technology, constant surface cleaning, and the reconfiguration of courtrooms and jury spaces to ensure social distancing.
As with previous orders, this one urges all courts to use technology to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings where practicable and lawful.
The order extends the Statewide Judicial Emergency for 30 days, as state law authorizes. It is effective until April 8, 2021.