King County Superior Court is suspending all in-person jury trials, effective immediately.
The court says in-person trials are too dangerous with a surge in coronavirus cases.
Trials will still happen in civil, family law, involuntary treatment and dependency cases -- but all without juries. Many of those trials will now be virtual.
The court will review rates of COVID-19 transmission to determine the length of the suspension, but the freeze on in-person jury trials is expected to last until at least January 11, 2021.
King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers said in a statement, “The well-being of our jurors, litigants, and staff is our utmost concern. We are grateful for their service, and the trust they place in us. Suspending jury trials is necessary to protect their health and safety, and that of our entire community.
With guidance from public health experts from the University of Washington, we will continuously monitor rates of COVID-19 and adapt our Public Health Plan accordingly. The Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial.
We are proud King County Superior Court has led the nation in restarting jury and bench trials in the Third Quarter of 2020, holding more jury and bench trials than any other court of its size. However, we must respond safely and flexibly as the infections are rising.”
This is the second time King County Superior Court has halted jury trials in response to the pandemic. The first suspension started in early March.