Delaware courts have again put jury trials on hold due to rising rates of COVID-19 cases in the general community.
Chief Justice Collins Seitz Junior said Monday that court facilities are still open to the public, but as the courts step back to Phase Two of reopening capacity is reduced from 75-percent to 50-percent. No more than ten visitors are allowed in a courtroom at one time.
Grand jury proceedings, bench trials and hearings will continue, and many proceedings may be conducted using audio or video conference technology.
Delaware Courts entered Phase Three of reopening last month. They had been operating under Phase Two for nearly four months.
“There has been a concerning rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Delaware, putting a strain on the state’s healthcare system. We believe it is prudent at this time to pause our reopening plans until the situation stabilizes. By stepping back to Phase Two restrictions we will once again limit the number of people at our court facilities – both visitors and staff – to limit the possible spread of COVID-19. It is important to note that the Delaware Courts will not be closing to the public like we did in March. Court facilities will remain open to the public. The transition back to Phase Two means that some restrictions that had been lifted in October will be re-imposed,” Chief Justice Seitz said. “Based on the advice we are receiving, and what other state courts are doing, we think stepping back to Phase Two is the safest course of action until after the holiday season. We will continue to monitor the situation, and reassess the public health concerns after the first of the year. The health and safety of judicial branch employees, the Delaware Bar, and the public is our top priority.”