FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 20, 2020
MECKLENBURG COUNTY COURTS TO RESUME JURY TRIALS
CHARLOTTE, NC — Mecklenburg County court officials have announced that jury trials will soon resume. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley had suspended jury trials since March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the Chief Justice directed senior resident superior court judges to craft and submit local plans for the safe resumption of jury trials as part of the Judicial Branch’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep the public and court employees safe.
The first jury trials in Mecklenburg County are expected to be held November 16, 2020. Jury summons were sent the week of October 12, 2020. To adhere to social distancing requirements, only two superior courtrooms will operate. Separate jury panels will be summoned in morning and afternoon groups.
“We want the public to know that we have implemented a number of safety precautions in consultation with local public health officials to make sure that anyone who needs to access our courthouse and those who are called upon to serve on a jury can do so safely,” said Judge Bob Bell, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge. “We are grateful for the partnership with our county officials who continue to work alongside us to make sure our courts remain open, accessible, and safe.”
The full Administrative Order, outlining the Resumption of Jury Trials Plan for the 26th Judicial District, pursuant to Chief Justice Beasley’s Emergency Directive 22 may be found here. Since March, Chief Justice Beasley has issued a number of emergency directives to guide court operations through the pandemic. Those directives have, among other things, allowed many court hearings to be held by teleconference, waived certain notary requirements for court documents, and required social distancing and face coverings in court facilities.
In July, the Chief Justice directed senior resident superior court judges to begin crafting plans for the safe resumption of jury trials. The plans were to be crafted in collaboration with the chief district court judge, trial court administrator, clerk of superior court, district attorney, public defender, sheriff, and public health director. Each plan was required to include several basic components, such as daily screening for trial participants, conducting jury selection, trial, and deliberations with social distancing, and plans for providing face coverings.
“I extend my deepest thanks to our elected officials all across North Carolina who have worked so hard to carefully craft these plans and tailor them to the needs of their local community,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “I want to reassure the public and all potential jurors that their safety continues to be our top priority.”
For the health and safety of the public, only those who have business with the court will be allowed inside the courthouse. The public is required to wear a face covering on their mouth and nose in all common areas and when interacting with others inside of the courthouse. Courthouse hours of operation are 8:00am until 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. The Clerk of Superior Court’s Office hours of operation are 9:00am until 3:00pm, Monday through Friday.
For the latest information regarding the status of our courts, visit https://www.nccourts.gov/covid-19.
The Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award is presented each year by the Mecklenburg County Bar through its Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Its purpose is to recognize an attorney who champions diversity and inclusion in Mecklenburg County while embodying high ethical standards, unquestioned integrity and consistent competence. Nominations are due on or before Friday, November 6, 2020, and should be addressed to members of the MCB Diversity & Inclusion Committee, sent to ChambersAward@meckbar.org or 2850 Zebulon Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28208. The award will be presented to the selected recipient at the McMillan Fund Fellowship Dinner.
Nominees must be attorneys based in Mecklenburg County who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and impact in the following areas:
The Award is fittingly named after its first honoree, the distinguished civil rights attorney Julius L. Chambers. Mr. Chambers represented the plaintiffs in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school desegregation case Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.
The YLD Education Committee is creating a "day in the life" video series as a way to increase awareness, understanding and knowledge of what being an attorney is actually like. To that end, the Committee is seeking volunteers to be featured in the video. In particular, we are looking for attorneys who practice in the following environments:
The people featured in the videos will give brief explanations of their day-to-day lives as attorneys and speak generally about what its like to practice law in their work environment. More detailed questions will be provided before shooting the video.
If this is something you are interested in, please reach out to Austin Backus (Backus_austin@hotmail.com) for further information.