Federal Jury Trials Halted as COVID-19 Continues to Surge

By 
David Golbitz
The Daily Record

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the U.S. District of Nebraska has issued a continuance of all jury trials, both civil and criminal, according to an order written by Chief District Judge John M. Gerrard.

The order, released Monday, states that “the pandemic is more severe in this district now than at any previous point,” which has made it unsafe to hold jury selection and try cases before a jury. General Order 2020-14 notes that public health and safety concerns outweigh a defendant’s right to a speedy trial.

“The Court must do its part to mitigate the effects of this public health emergency, rather than contribute to the problem,” Gerrard wrote.

Other in-court hearings are unaffected by the court’s order and case progression deadlines in civil cases remain in effect, though the order recommends that parties conduct discovery via phone or video conferencing rather than in person.

The coronavirus order will be reevaluated by Dec. 1.

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