Counties with two or fewer COVID-19 deaths can resume jury trials May 18, the Mississippi Supreme Court said in a ruling issued late Thursday. The ruling applies to 40 of the state’s 82 counties, including Warren County.
The state’s high court has issued continual guidance on judicial procedure throughout the pandemic.
“I have followed the Supreme Court’s orders and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations throughout this extraordinary time and I will continue to do so,” said Warren County Judge Marcie T. Southerland. “The jury trials that were scheduled in county court for April and May are now rescheduled over the next few months. Every precaution will be taken to ensure jurors’ safety, the parties’ safety, the witnesses’ safety, and of course, the safety of the court staff.”
Southerland has worked diligently to keep her courts functioning, especially youth court. She and other judges have made use of virtual meeting applications such as Zoom to conduct proceedings so that access to legal remedies has remained available to the public.
“The postponement of jury trials is creating a backlog within the judicial system. We have already had to cancel one grand jury which hampers the criminal justice system,” said Circuit Court Judge M. James Chaney in an email. “However, we are concerned about the safety of our citizens. We are monitoring the situation closely and, depending upon the circumstances, may be able to resume the criminal trials scheduled for June with implantation of appropriate safety measures.”
Under the ruling, counties with three or more COVID-19 deaths must wait until June 15 to issue jury summonses.See a typo? Report it here.