Law360 (April 7, 2021, 4:00 PM EDT) -- The Delaware federal court has lifted a civil and criminal jury trial suspension issued earlier this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with judges now given discretion whether to allow cases to proceed to trial.
The Delaware federal court has lifted a suspension on civil and criminal jury trials that was enacted earlier this year. (iStock.com/ChrisBoswell)
"Based on current conditions and after consultation with the court's reopening committee, the court has decided that it will not, at this time, extend the order," the court's notice said. "Whether and when any particular case will proceed to trial is left to the discretion of each individual judge of the court."
The court's current calendar indicates there are no jury trials scheduled through April 21. The schedule beyond that date is not yet available.
On Feb. 5, the Delaware federal court's chief judge suspended civil and criminal jury trials until April 5, citing the "continuing impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, in Delaware and across the nation; the small number of jury trials on the court's calendar for the next two months" and "the court's ongoing success in handling all types of proceedings other than jury trials."
February's order, signed by Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark, gave judges the discretion to "order a jury trial in the event of an emergency or other truly urgent situation."
Delaware's federal court was temporarily shut down last March as the pandemic took hold across the country. Since, the court has issued multiple orders postponing jury trials.
In October, the court issued jury trial "restart guidelines" intended to help the court prepare to "conduct jury trials in a manner that protects health and safety as well as litigants' rights." The guidelines included information about mailing out jury summonses and how jury selection would be handled.
A court order issued in September indicated criminal cases would be given priority as jury trials restart.
--Editing by Stephen Berg.
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