BOSTON — State courts have been given the go-ahead to begin holding jury trials by late next month.
Under the new order released Thursday by the Supreme Judicial Court, Phase 1 of the gradual resumption of jury trials will begin on or after Oct. 23.
The phase-in will follow recommendations contained in a recent report issued by the Jury Management Advisory Committee.
During Phase 1, a limited number of six-person jury trials will be conducted in person in a select number of locations. Each location will hold no more than one trial at a time, with specified limitations on the peremptory challenges.
The cases to be tried by juries in Phase 1 and their locations will be determined by the chief justice of the applicable trial court department, in consultation with the chief justice of the trial court.
The SJC will issue direction regarding Phase 2 of the resumption of jury trials after reviewing the committee's evaluation of Phase 1. Phase 2 is expected to begin in February, pending significant changes in the COVID-19 landscape.
Meanwhile, courts will continue to conduct most business virtually and courthouses will continue to be physically open to the public for limited purposes, including other in-person proceedings. Each trial court department will continue to post notices to the court system's COVID-19 webpage identifying how (virtually or in-person) it is addressing various categories of matters.
Clerk, register, and recorder's offices will continue to be physically open to the public, though they will conduct business virtually as much as possible.
New grand juries may be empaneled under certain conditions.