The Maryland Court System is due to enter the next stage of reopening on October 5, 2020. This means courts will resume full operations including the long-awaited jury trials. However, jury duty and jury trials will look different as many new safety protocols have been implemented to make the process as safe as possible for potential jurors.
While balancing safety and justice it is important that "the people of Maryland can depend on access to justice" said Chief Judge Barbera of the Maryland Court of Appeals. When arriving to the courthouse jurors should expect the standard protocols including mask wearing, screening questions and pre-admittance temperature checks. Some counties have organized jury check-ins at local volunteer fire company's social halls, high school gymnasiums and other large venues around the state, in an effort to maintain social distancing between prospective jurors.
It is important to note that the standards will be maintained throughout the state, but each jurisdiction will operate a little differently. Some counties will use technology to assist in picking a fair and impartial jury by sending potential jurors' questions to answer, using their smart phones, while others will stagger the jury panels by placing them in multiple court rooms where they will hear the judge telephonically. In all circumstances, the courts expect to call on more jurors then usual to allow for the flexibility in deferring service due to health concerns. If a juror has been called to jury duty and has an underlying health condition that might put them at greater risk deferring duty will be evaluated on a case by case basis, therefore be sure to notify the courts as soon as you receive your summons.
For more information on what to expect when you arrive for jury duty view this quick video, which highlights the additional safety protocols Maryland courts have implemented but remember to bring your own pen!
Written by Julie Mirman, an Associate Attorney with Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers' compensation.