Suspension of Trials Extended in Florida
For the third time, the Florida Supreme Court extended its order suspending all criminal and civil jury trials in the State of Florida. Initially, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Supreme Court suspended all criminal and civil jury trials for the month of April. As the number of COVID-19 cases continued to grow in Florida, the Florida Supreme Court extended its original suspension through the end of May. Now, the Florida Supreme Court has once again amended its order suspending all criminal and civil jury trials through July 2, 2020.
These suspensions not only affect Florida residents who have been summoned for jury duty, but also those individuals who had trial scheduled during the suspension. In Seminole County, if you received a jury duty summons during the suspension period, then you do not need to appear for jury duty. In addition, your summoned service is considered satisfied. Therefore, you do not need to present for jury duty until such time you receive a new summons from the Seminole County Clerk of Court. With regard to individuals who had their criminal or civil trial scheduled during the Florida Supreme Court’s suspension, each judge in Seminole County is working on resetting those trials for later in the year.
When Will Jury Trials Come Back?
Although the Florida Supreme Court has only extended its suspension through July 2, 2020, jury trials may take a little longer to come back into place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jury duty typically requires several hundreds of people to congregate in one room during the selection period. Thereafter, dozens of potential jurors are placed in one courtroom sitting side by side with other jurors. If an individual is picked to serve on a jury, most courtrooms are configured to have the jurors sit side by side for the duration of the trial period. Strategic planning in the courtrooms will have to take place in order to continue to protect the health and safety of all potential jurors. Due to the nature of the jury selection and service process, and due to the fact that COVID-19 will more likely than not be around for some time, the jury selection and jury trial process may look different before it returns to anything similar to normal.