The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today ordered a delay of new civil and criminal jury trial for the next five weeks - and says district attorneys cannot ask for new grand juries in criminal cases during that period - due to Covid-19.
Federal courts in Massachusetts announced similar actions yesterday.
The SJC, which oversees all other state courts in Massachusetts, said that trials that have already started, or for which juries have been selected, will continue. Defendants whose trials are delayed by the order can appeal to have their trial start as scheduled, but only if they can prove "exceptional circumstances," the court ordered.
Also today, the SJC ordered that anybody with sniffles, a persistent cough or other potential symptoms of coronavirus will have to petition the justices just to enter a Massachusetts state court.
In a statement, Chief Justice Ralph Gants said:
We are taking these measures to balance the need to protect the health of court personnel, those who visit our courthouses, and the general public, while attempting to continue court operations to the extent practicable. This is a rapidly changing situation and we are prepared to take further steps as needed.