A Look Inside New Era of Jury Trials in Erie County

Local News

It has been five months since Erie County has held a jury trial.

On Thursday, President Judge John Trucilla said they will resume once again in August with a new look in the new era of jury trials in Erie County.

Starting August 18th, Criminal Jury trials will resume marking a new normal for the court system.

“We’re doing it in the safest way possible, and to ensure or perhaps give them confidence that if they receive a jury summons they can confidently say they want to participate in one of the most important duties of citizenship,” said Erie County President Judge John J. Trucilla.

Those selected for trial will sit in the traditional jury box as well as select chairs placed throughout the courtroom to ensure social distancing.

In addition jurors will wear a mask.

Plastic shields have been placed throughout the room to decrease close interactions between individuals.

As for the jury assembly room there will not be more than 25 people in the room at one time.

Rows will be broken down to about five to ensure members are socially distant as well as including an area for sanitizing.

At jury selection, there will be 20 jurors called in the morning and another 20 for the afternoon creating a prospective pool.

It’s a significant decrease from the nearly 140 previously called.

“We’ll bring them one at a time before the judge and council and assure safe distancing,” Trucilla added.

Planning the new normal has been ongoing since May.

Jury Coordinator Rebecca Hudson said she anticipates some hesitation from prospective jury members.

“We do have some accommodations that we’re making to reschedule anybody who does have to be rescheduled,” said Hudson.

Three judges will preside over the August term including Judge Daniel Brabender, John Mead and David Ridge.

Moving forward there will be limited access to the public to ensure the room does not exceed capacity.

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