Seattle Courts: Jury Trials Suspended, Whether Civil or Criminal, Some Bench Trials Going Ahead

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Seattle Times (Sara Jean Green) reports that King County (Wash.) Superior Court has postponed all jury trials until April 24 (UPDATE: just got the orders themselves, and posted them here and here):

"Social distancing during jury selection and jury trials is nearly impossible," the order says.

The order acknowledges that criminal defendants have a right to a speedy trial but says that, as of Friday, the danger of the virus is too great.

"It constitutes an unavoidable circumstance beyond the control of the court and the parties," Rogers' order states [referring to Wash. Crim. R. 3.3(e)(8) -EV].

Neighboring Pierce County and Snohomish County are implementing similar rules, though some bench trials are still progressing; I quote the Pierce County rules:

  • All jury trials will be suspended through April 24th, except those already in progress.
  • Civil jury trials, except those already in progress, will either be continued or heard as a bench trial by agreement of the parties.
  • All criminal jury trials, except those already in progress, will either be continued or heard as a bench trial by waiver of a jury trial….
  • Jurors summoned during those dates are excused from service….
  • The court is encouraging telephonic appearance.
  • Non-jury trials are not affected.  They will proceed as scheduled.

Thanks to Mark S. Leen for the pointers.

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