COVID Trouble: No Jury for You?

Aug 11, 2020 | Allen A. Ritchie

Jury during COVID

(Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch/AP)


Jury trials in Alabama are backed up. I mean really backed up.

Criminal lawyers want to get their clients out of jail. Injury lawyers want to make insurance companies pay up. Both need a jury. However, old southern courtrooms are not designed for social distancing. Lawyers are so desperate to get in front of 12 unbiased citizens they have used everything from tape measures to hockey sticks to try to make the distancing work.

Here are some things being tried across the country … and some are very expensive.

  • Zoom Juries – This has been almost universally condemned since jurors are supposed to be focused on the trial despite being at home. I am told a mistrial was declared after one juror got up and fixed a sandwich … and began eating it.
  • Masks for Everyone – You still must be 6 feet apart, and some lawyers say it makes their clients look guilty.
  • Plexiglas Booths for the Individual Jurors – Let’s hope no one is afraid of small spaces.
  • Deliberations at a Distance – This is where we usually put 12 people in a relatively small room and let them discuss until they all agree. If you have seen the movie 12 Angry Men you have seen how “in your face” that can be.
  • Getting Out of the Courthouse – Some states have used high school gyms and hotel ballrooms for more space.
  • Go Outside – They did that during the 1918 influenza pandemic, but that was before central heating and air conditioning.

If you get injured, you should care if the jury system is up and running. Without it, you will probably collect less money. That is right. The fear of what a jury would award an injured person is about the only thing that makes an insurance company offer fair compensation for your pain and suffering.

If you suffer a personal injury like an auto accident or slip and fall, 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