Jury trials to resume on a phased basis for some courts, next month

by January 7th, 2021

The Judiciary will be resuming jury trials on a phased basis for the Home Circuit Court and some Rural Circuit Courts next month (February).

Jury trials were suspended last year March when Jamaica recorded its first case of Covid-19.

The Court Administration Division says jury trials for matters excepting where the death penalty is in issue; will proceed at courts, which can accommodate jurors with adequate space for physical distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Kingston Home Circuit Court will resume jury trials on February 12, 2021, while the St. Catherine Parish Court will resume on February 15.

Jurors summoned for the period February 8, to March 5, are to attend for duties at the Westmoreland, Portland and Trelawny Courts.

Meantime, jurors summoned for the St. James court for January 7, to February 5, are not required to attend until March 8.

And jurors summoned to attend the Hanover, St. Elizabeth and St. Mary parish courts from March 8, to March 26, are to attend for duties.

The Court Administration Division notes that jurors summoned for courts in parishes where there are no jury trials, are not required to attend and are excused without any risk of penalty.

In parishes, where no jury trials will occur for the periods indicated, cases triable without a jury are to proceed.

Several conditions have been implemented for jury trials to protect jurors and other participants from Covid-19.

The judiciary explains that to accommodate jury trials, it will be using two courtrooms to hear a single matter and will be transferring matters that would usually be dealt with at the parish courts to outstations to facilitate physical distancing.

Jurors are being assured that all Covid-19 guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be followed while they are in the precincts of the courts.

There will be no ceremonial opening for the Circuit Courts for the Hilary term, which begins January 7.

Meantime, ten judges were sworn in by Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen, this morning (January 7).

Among them are; Judge of Appeal Viviene Harris and Puisne Judge, Carole Barnaby.

Five Acting Puisne Judges and three Masters in Chambers were also sworn in.

Speaking during this morning’s ceremony, Sir Patrick charged the judges to uphold the constitution and deliver justice impartially.

He also urged citizens to offer support to the judges.

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