photo by: Mackenzie Clark
Chairs are spaced apart at the Flory Meeting Hall of the Douglas County Fairgrounds on Dec. 18, 2020. Douglas County District Court made plans to hold jury trials at the building beginning in 2021.
Jury trials that were set to begin this month in Douglas County District Court are going to be postponed, the chief judge said Thursday.
The court has a plan approved by the state Office of Judicial Administration and by Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health to resume holding jury trials safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Trials were set to begin Monday, Jan. 11, using the Flory Meeting Hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds to provide adequate space for social distancing, among other precautions.
However, Chief Judge James McCabria said the judges met this week to discuss whether to proceed with the jury trial schedule as planned.
“After much deliberation – including considering the decisions of other local state and federal courts as well as current COVID numbers (and the direction of the 14-day curve) in Douglas County – we reached the consensus that the better part of discretion justified removing the trials scheduled for January from the docket,” McCabria said via email.
Only January trials are being removed from the docket, and they will be rescheduled within the divisions where they are assigned, McCabria said. Cases that have been scheduled for jury trials from February through July all remain on the docket.
The Kansas Supreme Court suspended time limits and deadlines in court cases in March because of COVID-19.
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• Dec. 18, 2020: Douglas County District Court prepares for jury trials at the fairgrounds; here’s what to expect if you’re summoned
• Nov. 17, 2020: Douglas County’s jury trial plan approved; court can use fairgrounds buildings to allow for social distancing
• Nov. 1, 2020: New public access issues arise in Douglas County Court cases months into pandemic
• Oct. 18, 2020: Technology limitations, pandemic changes create concerns as Douglas County inmates try to navigate court system
• July 13, 2020: COVID-19 precautions, ‘technical difficulties’ hinder public access to court hearing in Lawrence murder case
• May 25, 2020: Some pandemic-related efficiencies here to stay, Douglas County District Court chief judge says
• May 19, 2020: Many Douglas County District Court hearings to be livestreamed on YouTube; some appointments being scheduled
• May 10, 2020: Is the Douglas County Jail’s inmate population decrease amid COVID-19 sustainable? Law enforcement isn’t optimistic
• April 12, 2020: Expanding use of videoconferencing keeps Douglas County District Court moving forward; some challenges persist
• April 7, 2020: Douglas County district attorney: 14 inmates released from jail amid COVID-19; some community service hours waived in diversion cases
• March 22, 2020: Speedy trial rights are on hold in Kansas. What does that mean for defendants?
• March 17, 2020: Douglas County District Court delays most hearings, jury trials amid COVID-19 concerns
• March 13, 2020: Douglas County District Court limits public presence in courtrooms, hallways amid COVID-19 outbreak
• March 13, 2020: Some Douglas County Jail inmates could be released on furloughs if sick or at risk of COVID-19