With valiant and devoted efforts, our state and federal judiciary is implementing a gradual process of reopening courts, including jury trials. Some of the planning contemplates use of remote, virtual or Zoom proceedings while some venues are slowly reopening courthouses for in-person litigation—with major attention to safety protocols. Most of us recognize that—institutionally speaking—the courts simply have to return to some kind of effective function.
Yet, there is another “institution” that has become a serious COVID casualty—the precious jury trial. There is emergent debate as to whether the judiciary’s plans to hold virtual trials or in-person jury trials in altered physical surroundings with fearful or limited jury pools is “good medicine.” See e.g., P. Hinton & T. Melsheimer, “The Remote Jury Trial Is A Bad Idea,” Law 360 (June 9, 2020); G.J. Hauck, “Virtual Trials Are No Longer Just A Remote Possibility,” Lexology (Sept. 4, 2020); K. Broda-Bahm, “Expect Attorney Resistance To Online Trial Innovations,” Lexology (Sept. 7, 2020).
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