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All new Massachusetts jury trials to be postponed for weeks, entry into courthouses limited



BOSTON, MA — The Supreme Judicial Court Friday issued two orders regarding the courts and the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. According to a statement, the purpose of the orders is to protect public health by reducing the risk of exposure to the virus and slowing its spread.

The SJC ordered that, effective immediately, all empanelments in jury trials, in both criminal and civil cases, are postponed until no earlier than April 21, 2020. This order does not affect any case in which a jury has already been empaneled or where a jury has been selected for empanelment; such cases shall proceed through verdict. In addition, no new grand juries will be empaneled before April 21, 2020, and grand juries whose terms expire on or before April 21, 2020 will be extended until that date. In exceptional circumstances, a criminal defendant may seek an exception to the order postponing jury trials.

In a separate order, the SJC ordered that, effective immediately, persons who have symptoms of, or any exposure to, COVID-19 may not enter a courthouse or other state court facility, including probation offices, until the SJC determines that it is safe to remove the restrictions. Persons attempting to enter a courthouse or other state court facility in violation of this order will be denied entry by security.

“We are taking these measures to balance the need to protect the health of court personnel, those who visit our courthouses, and the general public, while attempting to continue court operations to the extent practicable,” said Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants. “This is a rapidly changing situation and we are prepared to take further steps as needed.”

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