The Judges of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court General Division resumed jury trials on Monday, September 21. The Court continues to encourage remote hearings, and Judges continue to conduct bench trials in which a jury is not required.
For months, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court has been working with medical experts and architects to prepare for trials, and has investigated numerous options to properly address the safety of the public and our staff. The Court will schedule three trials per week, with six backup cases in place if any of the scheduled trials settle. Three of our largest courtrooms have been equipped with Plexiglas partitions between jurors, attorneys and their clients, and Court personnel. The courtrooms will be wiped down during breaks, and thoroughly disinfected each evening.
Citizens who receive a jury summons will call the Court the night before they are scheduled to appear to determine if they will be needed. Jurors will then assemble at the Global Center for Health Innovation across the street from the Justice Center where there is more room for social distancing. After going through security, jurors will be screened for temperature and will be asked a series of COVID-19 related health questions. If they do not have a mask, one will be provided, along with a personal bottle of hand sanitizer. Once jurors are seated in designated chairs, they will verbally sign in when their name is called. Those randomly chosen for jury selection will then be escorted to the Justice Center, and taken to the appropriate floor by Court staff operating dedicated elevators. Masks will be required at all times.
Once in the courtroom, jurors will be provided with clear face shields to wear so that the attorneys can interact with them. The Judge and witness will also have clear shields that allow their faces to be seen. The number of people allowed to view the trial in the gallery will also be reduced.
The Court will continue to review all options to best protect everyone involved in a trial.