Less than one week after the Connecticut Judicial District announced sweeping directives to reduced traffic in the state’s Superior Court system, and put a hold on jury selections and jury trials due to fears of COVID-19, the chief court administrator announced Wednesday a further reduction of court personnel.
In the directive that Chief Court Administrator Patrick Carroll III issued along with input from Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Robinson. the Judicial District announced several changes that will take effect on Thursday.
They include the following:
• One building in each of the 13 judicial districts will be designated as the location at which Priority 1 business functions will be handled. Those functions include criminal arraignments of defendants held in lieu of bond and all arraignments involving domestic violence cases; juvenile detention hearings; family and civil orders of relief from abuse; and termination of parental rights.
• Juvenile matters will now be heard only in the Hartford and Bridgeport juvenile courthouses.
In the directive, Carroll wrote that he and Robinson “concluded that it is necessary to implement the following unprecedented measures to protect the public, the bar, and our employees.”
Carroll, who said most court employees will not come to work, continued: “These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures. Our overarching challenge throughout the crisis has been to balance the constitutional obligation of the courts to remain open with protecting the health and safety of every individual who enters a state courthouse. Ultimately, we have determined that the plan announced today is the best option to achieve this balance.”
Last week, Connecticut superior courts announced delays of all future jury selections and trials through at least April 13. Juries sitting before the March 13 directive would continue in those trials.
Hartford Superior Court Administrative Judge David Sheridan issued his own directive on March 11.
That directive states that beginning March 13 and until further notice, all pretrial conferences, status conferences and trial management conferences would be conducted over the phone. He also said requests for continuance for up to three months—that are based on legitimate concerns over exposure to the virus—would be “automatically” granted.