Jury trials resume at the Norfolk Circuit Court

Posted at 9:42 AM, Sep 17, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - One of the largest courthouses in Virginia will once again have jurors performing their civic duty.

The Norfolk Circuit Court has been approved to resume jury trials, effective September 14, 2020. The Court’s plan for resumption of jury trials, made in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health, was one of only four plans in the Commonwealth approved by the Virginia Supreme Court.

Jury trials across Virginia stopped beginning in mid-March, following Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency.

Norfolk’s plan for jury trials mandates:

  • All jurors must wear a face covering and stay six feet apart.
  • Jurors will be scheduled to arrive in groups of 30 every two hours.
  • Jurors will wait in separate areas in groups of no more than 15.
  • Jurors will be given regular breaks for hand washing.

In addition, jurors will sit six feet apart in renovated jury “boxes” in the courtroom. Jurors will also deliberate cases in the courtroom versus the smaller jury deliberation rooms.

All high-touch surfaces will be cleaned frequently. Individuals at high risk for COVID-19 will be instructed how to request excusal or deferral.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that all persons accused of a crime shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. Virginia law defines speedy trial to mean that incarcerated individuals have a right to a trial within five months.

Related: Portsmouth courthouses taking temperatures as coronavirus pandemic continues

In Norfolk, many individuals have been held in jail because jury trials were prohibited by the Virginia Supreme Court due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Persons summoned to appear for jury duty may review the Court’s plan here.

For a full look at the approved proposal and plan for the resumption of jury trials, click here.