The Delaware Courts system is pausing jury trials once again and rolling back to Phase II restrictions as novel coronavirus COVID-19 cases spike across the state.
According to an announcement from Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr., justices have decided that jury trials will be pause as the court regresses to Phase II of its four-part reopening plan.
"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,” said Seitz, citing recommendations from the courts' infectious diseases expert Dr. Alfred Bacon.
“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.”
Courts will remain open to the public, but staffing levels and building capacity will decrease from 75% to 50%. No courtroom will be permitted to have more than 10 visitors. Non-jury civil and criminal trials will continue. Grand jury proceedings will also continue.