Jury Duty and COVID-19

May 8, 2020 | Allen A. Ritchie

Jury Duty during the Pandemic

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You will not receive a jury summons in Mobile County this May or June and probably July. The reason: there are not going to be any local jury trials for the next few months. One of the new realities of COVID-19 is social distancing, and courtrooms were not made for spreading out.

This may surprise you, but it takes 300 people to eventually get down to the dozen or so jurors who will hear a trial. People get kicked off for a variety of reasons; in fact, each side gets to remove some potential jurors for no reason at all.

Here is a peculiarity of the Mobile County Courthouse. You must take the elevator to get to the Jury Assembly Room. Can you imagine how long it would take to get 300 people up in elevators keeping social distancing? What is that … 2 people an elevator? And who is going to push the button?

If you are worried about getting out on bond (I know, you are just asking for a friend), you can still see a judge … through a computer screen. Judges in Mobile County have been using that technology to speak with inmates since mid-March.

This may shock you, but though the state has bought ZOOM, the teleconferencing software, for each of the judges, the pandemic came on so suddenly that not all judges have computers with cameras and microphones. At least one judge I know is using his personal iPad.

The judges will work it out because trial by jury is just too important to our justice system. But for a few months, no jury summons for you.

If you are hurt in a traffic accident or suffer a personal injury, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet. We are working remotely mostly but are always available.

Also, join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30 right after the news. We will take your calls live. We are experimenting with new ways to do the show and still follow the CDC guidelines. You might want to see what we have come up with.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama personal injury lawyer