Wyoming Supreme Court Halts Jury Trials, Calls For Rescheduling Cases

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court/Coronavirus

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A halt has been called to jury trials in the state by the Wyoming Supreme Court because of coronavirus.

Justices, in a Friday order, said the illness has forced the closure of many support offices for the state’s courts and made it difficult to find jurors.

“Recent dramatic increases in Covid-19 cases throughout Wyoming (112% increase in the past 14 days), have resulted in the full or partial shutdown of several courts, public defender offices and county attorney offices,” the order said. “It is difficult or impossible to get jurors.”

The court said jury trials should be stopped until further notice and recommended that reasonable attempts be made to reschedule trials in both criminal and civil cases.

Justices also recommended restrictions on court activities requiring in-person appearances except as needed to handle emergencies, such as hearings needed to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants, provide relief from abuse or issue emergency child custody or protection orders.

The Supreme Court said judges could use the telephone and video conferencing options where possible to conduct necessary hearings, such as sentencing hearings and bench trials for misdemeanor charges.

Justices also said local judges should work with their county commissioners to make sure county courthouses remain open to take care of court business required by law or the state’s Constitution.

The court said it would review the order by Jan. 15 to determine whether it should be continued.

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