With jury trials resuming in November, the 10th District Court has made changes to accommodate social distancing and space restrictions mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jury Summons/Selection Process
Jury summons will now take place at the Fallon Convention Center which will be set up like the courtroom but with seats spaced six feet apart. Those selected to appear for jury summons, or voir dire, will receive a letter from the court explaining the new procedures, a COVID health screening questionnaire and a face mask to wear during the voir dire process at the Convention Center. An individual bottle of hand sanitizer will also be provided for their use.
“We’ve planned and drawn on what other courts are doing to ensure juries and all parties in the courtroom are safe,” said Judge Tom Stockard of the 10th Judicial District Court. “We’ve moved the jury summons process to the Convention Center to accommodate COVID restrictions. Prior to COVID, the voir dire process was held at the courtroom.”
As jury trials resume in the courtroom, that space will also look different. The public viewing space in the courtroom will be transformed into a socially-distanced jury box. The public, which previously could be in the courtroom, will be able to view the proceedings via live stream but will no longer allowed in the courtroom due to space constraints and social distancing. Plaintiff and defendant legal counsel tables will be set on a diagonal so that the jury may see the attorneys.
Witnesses in trials will be behind plexiglass shields so that the jury can see their faces.
The courtroom will be sanitized and cleaned on a daily basis and wiped down by staff between hearings.
Judge Stockard expressed his thanks to the City of Fallon for the use of the Convention Center and to city and county leadership for supporting these changes to the courts for jury trials in the era of COVID-19.
“We also want to assure the public that we are taking every precaution so that they can feel safe when entering the court,” Judge Stockard said.
Questions about the new process may be directed to the 10th Judicial District Court at (775)423-6088.
Photo caption: Layout at the Fallon Convention Center during jury summons.