Norfolk courts latest in Virginia OK'd for jury trials

Headline Legal News

One of Virginia’s largest courts will restart jury trials next week, six months after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Tidewater-area judges to halt them. Norfolk Circuit Court is one of four courts statewide that the Virginia Supreme Court has allowed to conduct jury trials again, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported.

The Supreme Court banned all lower courts from conducting jury trials starting in mid-May, but Norfolk already had postponed them in mid-March. Courts can petition the high court to restart jury trials.

Potential jurors in Norfolk Circuit Court will be kept in small groups, have to wear face masks and practice social distancing. Once in court, they won’t sit in jury boxes but in seats 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart, and they’ll decide verdicts in an empty court room, rather than in a special side room normally used.

Norfolk’s judges already have been holding in-person hearings of several types, including bench trials in which a judge renders a verdict. The Supreme Court also has allowed jury trials again in Alleghany, Henrico and Stafford counties.

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