Hall County suspends jury trials

Hall County has suspended jury trials to protect members from getting sick or exposed.
Hall County has suspended jury trials to protect members from getting sick or exposed.(Diamond Nunnally, KSNB)
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 8:58 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Hall County has suspended jury trials for the next couple months. Officials believe this was the best course of action to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

There are about 12 to 14 jury members that are normally crammed into small rooms and sit close together, and even though they’d be wearing a mask, the county didn’t want to risk getting jury members sick or exposed.

“When you come for jury trials you wear masks. The jurors wear masks. Everybody tries to wear masks, again not a perfect solution, but again you don’t want to run the risk, the inordinate risk, or the unreasonable risk, or the unusual risk or subjecting people to the virus,” Hall County Public Defender Gerard Piccolo said.

They expect to resume jury trials in January but it depends on whether community spread slows down.

“We might go back to the situation we had earlier this year where we had jurors come in and maintain the social distancing which is possible in this courtroom behind you,” Piccolo said. “It may not be possible in other courtrooms.”

Officials said suspending jury trials will put them further behind.

“There’s a backlog of cases,” Piccolo said. “I don’t know what we’re going to be doing once we, what’s the term, go back to normal, but there are some cases that need to be tried and I don’t know when we’ll get around to doing them.”

Right now, the county is doing bench trials and other court hearings remotely as much as possible.

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