On July 14, 2020, Miami’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court held Florida’s first jury trial since the COVID pandemic struck the area in March. Jury selection via Zoom and testifying behind plexiglass were just a few of the safety measures taken during the court’s pilot program.
According to Law360, eight (8) jurors reached a verdict in favor of a homeowner in a dispute with an insurance company after one (1) day in court. The court carefully adhered to the following safety requirements:
- The jury selection process was conducted via Zoom while the prospective jurors were in their homes.
- Jurors were assigned parking spots outside the courts and escorted into the building by bailiffs.
- Upon entering, all were asked about possible COVID symptoms and underwent a temperature check.
- Jurors were seated at least six (6) feet apart while inside the courtroom.
- Jurors were given face shields and asked to wear them when moving locations.
- Witnesses testified behind plexiglass.
- Admission to the courtroom was strictly limited.
- Proceedings were streamed live via the court’s YouTube channel.
The case above was selected for the pilot program because it was streamlined, uncomplicated, and intended only to take a day or two. More complicated cases, like criminal trials, are not currently authorized to use this format and may be postponed until there is a vaccine available. (Law360)
Attorneys on both sides of the case attested to the difficulties of reading potential jurors via Zoom. However, the Plaintiff believed it was a good alternative for similar cases that should take two or fewer days.
The Zoom format also brings new and potentially permanent efficiencies to other Florida court proceedings, such as the five (5) minute motion calendars in civil court and remote traffic court.
Advocate Capital, Inc. is proud that firms nationwide are taking steps to ensure our critical justice system continues to serve those in need. To learn more about this groundbreaking case click here: Law360 Miami Court Pulls Off Fla.’s First Jury Trial In Pandemic
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