What to expect if you’re summoned for jury duty during the pandemic

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Jury trials are expected to start back up in upcoming weeks at the 15th Circuit Court.

Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says jury summons were mailed out on July 20.

Attached to the summons is a COVID questionnaire that jurors must answer and mail back to the clerk’s office.

All jurors will have their temperatures taken before jury selection begins on August 10.

“The biggest thing right up front is the jury has been broken up into two parts,” said Richardson.

Jurors will be split into morning and afternoon groups for questioning.

Everyone in attendance will sit six feet apart and are required to wear masks during the selection process.

“Generally court has done changes for efficiency sake. This is a little different. This is all about safety of all the participants,” said Richardson.

12 jurors and alternates will be selected and trials will begin August 11.

Richardson says the court decided to try drug cases first, as they generally run shorter than violent crimes.

“A drug case, they’re very important, but it’s not the emotion you might see or the number of witnesses,” said Richardson.

The 15th Circuit Court is one of the first courts in the state to reopen for trials.

Richardson expects the State Supreme Court to use their model as an example for the remaining courts.

An additional third row of seating will be placed near the jury box to ensure jurors are six feet apart.

All parties inside the courtroom, including the judge, will wear a mask for the duration of the trial.

“We are making every effort possible to make sure that nobody catches it when they’re trying to do their civil service,” said Richardson.

Richardson says those who are summoned for jury selection and are considered high risk should call the clerk’s office to plead their case.

“I can’t envision there being a big fight, because it is a trying time. If you have any questions on that I would dial the number that will go to the clerk’s office and they will be able to help,” said Richardson.

At this time the circuit court does not have a timeline for when murder or violent crime trials could begin.

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