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Shuttered mall could be used as a site for jury trials

November 27, 2020 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A shuttered Massachusetts mall is being considered as a site to hold jury trials when they resume early next year, officials say.

The state Trial Court’s Chief Justice Paula Carey in a letter to Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington said The Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough is a possible location for trials.

“We have made some appreciable progress in identifying and obtaining space to conduct jury trials at the Berkshire Mall,” Carey wrote, according to a story Thursday in The Berkshire Eagle. “We are hopeful that together we can move the ball forward with respect to that location.”

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The retail outlet just outside of Pittsfield shut down last year.

Jury trials have been suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, but the state court system announced a plan recently to resume six-person jury trials in January to deal with a massive statewide backlog, but only at sites that can be made coronavirus safe.

It was determined that Berkshire County courthouses could not be made safe.

Harrington said the inability to try cases is delaying justice, while frustrating victims and defendants alike.

There is a backlog of more than 2,000 district court trials and almost 200 Superior Court trials in Berkshire County alone, she said.

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BOSTON NONPROFIT GRANTS

The Boston Resiliency Fund created in response to the coronavirus pandemic has made another $1.75 million in grants to 17 nonprofits that serve the community, Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement Friday.

Of those organizations, 70% are led by a person of color and 76% are led by a woman.

Among the organizations to receive grants in the latest round of funding are the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, which will use the money to boost testing capacity as well as outreach and health messaging in the city’s Black communities; and Delta Sigma Theta, Boston Alumnae Chapter, which will use its grant to support the academic and social-emotional needs of 100 girls in the city’s public schools.

The Boston Resiliency Fund has raised $33.4 million from more than 6,700 individual donors and has distributed $29.4 million to more than 360 nonprofit organizations since March.

“The Boston Resiliency Fund has served as a lifeline for our most vulnerable residents since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Walsh said in a statement. “In collaboration with our partner nonprofit organizations, we have supported programming for youth and families, ensured public health and availability of COVID-19 testing, and increased access to food and basic needs.”

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LATEST FIGURES

State health officials releasing two days’ worth of coronavirus data reported nearly 4,500 newly confirmed cases and 29 additional confirmed deaths.

Massachusetts’ total caseload since the pandemic began rose Friday to just under 212,000 cases, and the death toll now stands at 10,401. Authorities caution that the actual toll is likely higher because of deaths not attributed to COVID-19.

Nearly 1,000 people were hospitalized as of Friday afternoon, more than 200 of them in intensive care, the state Department of Public Health said.