Without question, COVID-19 has overturned familiar patterns in every field including the legal system. When it comes to jury trials, courts around the country are trying to adapt to conduct fair and effective trials while keeping jurors, litigants and court staff safe from infection. As U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell of Eastern District of Kentucky described her efforts to conduct a COVID-era trial, the process can be “like building an airplane while you’re flying it.” Measures to address COVID safety while resuming jury trials will evolve based on what the courts and litigants learn in the early days, and on the surge and decrease of COVID rates in different venues.

What are the practical implications for litigants of bringing jurors to the courtroom for in-person trials? And perhaps more important, what are the psychological effects on jurors, not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but because of the safety measures that are changing how trials work?

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