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Jury trials to resume for Houston County on October 5

Houston Co. Courthouse
Houston Co. Courthouse(WTVY)
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 5:23 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -

Jury Trials will resume in Houston County beginning October 5, 2020. Summons should begin arriving at the homes of potential jurors later this week, according to a press release from Houston County’s circuit clerk.

There are several procedures that have been put in place to keep jurors, other court participants, and the public safe from COVID-19, as well as comply with CDC guidance.

The new procedures include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rather than a single jury term for all five Circuit Judges, only one Circuit Judge will be conducting jury trials during a given week. This will significantly reduce the number of prospective jurors who will be entering the courthouse each week.
  • A new juror summons process has also been developed that will include an online jury qualification.
    • Those individuals receiving a summons for jury duty will be instructed to use a computer or smart phone to log onto a secure website to complete a short questionnaire. By completing the questionnaire, potential jurors can qualify for jury service or request to be excused online rather than in person.
  • Jurors who are at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 due to age or an underlying medical condition may use the online process to request their jury service be deferred until a later date. The juror summons will also have instruction for individuals without internet or smart phone access.
Additional procedures include:
sanitizing surfaces
temperature checking for fever
social distancing measures
sanitizing stations
one-way travel in stairwells for those who are able to use the stairs
limiting the number of people permitted in an elevator
courtrooms arranged so that jurors will be seated at least six feet from other jurors
courtroom itself used for jury deliberations
masks will be required
face shields will be available and Plexiglas shields will be placed throughout courtrooms to provide additional protection

To maximize their effectiveness, these procedures will be continuously evaluated.

Likewise, the Alabama Department of Public Health’s data and surveillance information about COVID-19 in Alabama and Houston County will be monitored.

The weekly jury terms will be temporarily suspended if Houston County is placed in the Very High Risk Category by the Alabama Department of Public Health or if unforeseen circumstances require such action.

Copyright 2020 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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