Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Circuit Court jury trials deferred due to COVID

Published:Sunday | September 19, 2021 | 11:10 AM
Sykes said the judicial system will have to modify its response to crises.

Circuit Court jury trials for the 2021 Michaelmas Term, which runs from September to December, have been deferred due to the latest surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

Chief Justice Bryan Sykes indicated that members of the Judiciary's COVID-19 Advisory Committee had several discussions before deciding to postpone the resumption of jury trials this term.

“When all things were considered, including the spike in the COVID-19 numbers [and] the [presence of the] Delta variant [in Jamaica], the decision was taken that, across the island, we could not safely resume jury trials,” he said while speaking during Thursday's opening of the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston.

“We felt it was simply too risky, particularly at the point of jury selection, where the jurors would have to certainly be in one space where they could see and hear what is happening and hear the names being called,” Sykes added.

Against this background, Sykes said the judicial system will have to modify its response to crises.

“We have to move, now, from response to the crisis to having more permanent and settled ways of managing within the COVID-19 pandemic or, indeed, to other pandemics that may come,” he added.

The Chief Justice said redesigning jury boxes to accommodate the recommended social distancing protocols made by the Ministry of Health and Wellness is on the agenda.

He further indicated that of the courts islandwide, only four are equipped to operate within the recommended health guidelines without significant alterations.

These are two facilities at the Home Circuit Court, and one each in Portland and Westmoreland.

- JIS News 

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