Scott County District Court joins five other Minnesota courts in resuming criminal jury trials this month, the Minnesota Judicial Branch announced Monday.
Six district courts were approved as pilot programs after proving adherence to the judicial branch’s preparedness plan, as well as state and local checklists — both of which outline changes to facilities and protocols that must be followed to meet social distancing and safety needs.
The pilot counties are approved to convene juries for criminal cases immediately (juries for civil cases are being held off until Sept. 1). Jurors will be issued a paper mask when they arrive at the Scott County Courthouse each day. Alternatively, jurors may bring their own face coverings.
”We are committed to ensuring courts are doing everything we can to make the criminal jury trial experience safe,” Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea said.
Additional Minnesota Department of Health social distancing guidelines will be followed in each courthouse, including when and where jurors assemble, listen to proceedings, deliberate and move throughout the courthouse. Where necessary, partitions and physical barriers have been set up in each courthouse to ensure that traffic flow and interactions are taking place safely.
Other pilot counties are Hennepin, McLeod, Olmsted, Ramsey and Blue Earth. Juries already reached verdicts in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties last week.
“As pilots have progressed we have been impressed with the commitment to duty shown by Minnesotans during these turbulent times,” Gildea said.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch is exempted from limits on gatherings under Executive Order No. 20-63.