Jury trials won't resume in Massachusetts until at least Sept. 8 and in-person criminal and civil bench trials are still on hold until July 1, at the earliest, under a new order released by the Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday outlining its latest reopening strategy.
Courthouses will remain closed to the public through June to July 1 under the newest order, which will replace the SJC's last guidance on May 4, but the courts will continue to conduct emergency and non-emergency business in civil and criminal cases virtually, as it has been doing for weeks.
Each department in the Trial Court system is also being asked to review and update its list of non-emergency matters that will be handled remotely.
"The court system is open and conducting business virtually, with Trial Court departments increasingly addressing non-emergency matters that can be handled remotely," Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants said in a statement. "We will physically open courthouses to the public only when we are confident that we have protocols in place that will allow court users and court personnel to both be safe and feel safe, and even then we will open only in stages, focusing first on those matters that can only be addressed in person."
The SJC also ordered that the statute of limitations on all civil and criminal matters be further extended.
The court had previously paused all statutes of limitation from March 17 through May 31. The new order pauses civil statutes of limitation through June 30 and through Aug. 31 on criminal statutes.
While that represents an extension on both types of cases, the justices said the civil statutes of limitation will not be "tolled" beyond June 30 unless there is a new surge of COVID-19 cases and the court sees a further need. \