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Two Virginia court systems to resume jury trials after break

January 25, 2021 GMT

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Two Virginia counties have announced plans to resume jury trials after having taken a 10-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montgomery and Giles counties are the first court systems in the New River Valley to receive state approval to call jurors again, The Roanoke Times reported.

The initial jury trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday, with jurors in Montgomery County Circuit Court considering an appeal of a misdemeanor assault and battery conviction. Giles County’s first jury trial currently is scheduled for Feb. 9.

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In both court systems, procedures have been established to protect jurors from getting COVID-19. For example, jurors are to sit in the courtrooms’ spectator galleries, rather than in jury boxes, so that they can maintain more distance from one another and from everyone else in the courtroom.

Jury trials across Virginia came to an abrupt halt in March as the pandemic began and the Virginia Supreme Court declared a judicial emergency. Court systems were told to submit plans for how to safely hold jury trials.

Roanoke, Salem, and the counties of Roanoke, Franklin and Bedford are among the court systems whose plans already have received the Virginia Supreme Court’s go-ahead.