The First Judicial District, which includes Jefferson and Gilpin counties, is taking another pause on jury trials amid rising COVID-19 case numbers and an outbreak of the disease among court staff. …
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The First Judicial District, which includes Jefferson and Gilpin counties, is taking another pause on jury trials amid rising COVID-19 case numbers and an outbreak of the disease among court staff.
On Nov. 6, Chief Judge Jeffrey Pilkington issued an order suspending all jury trials through Jan. 18, 2021. The order does permit other court operations to continue through the use of remote technology, whenever possible.
According to the order, the court was notified on Nov. 4 that three court employees had tested positive for COVID-19. Following the completion of the contact tracing process, 12 other court employees have been quarantined because they were in contact with those who are positive.
“This has a significant impact on the court's ability to conduct its business, including trials,” Pilkington wrote in the order.
The order notes that “most other jurisdictions in the state have suspended jury trials through much of the holiday season” and “public health experts repeatedly caution that COVID-19 will spread as families and friends gather during the holidays.”
Pilkington also stated in the order that it is premised on the COVID-19 orders previously issued by federal, state and local authorities.”
“For these reasons and in collaboration with the Jefferson County Public Health and the Gilpin County Board of Health, the Court concludes that the District can no longer safely assemble a jury pool at this time in the pandemic,” Pilkington wrote in the order.
The order also states that the order may be amended as necessary as circumstances with the virus have “changed rapidly and may continue to do so.”
The postponement of all jury trials to 2021 will worsen what DA Pete Weir has called “an unprecedented backlog of cases” that was created following a five-month pause on jury trials earlier this year as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
In August, Weir told Colorado Community Media that 840 Jeffco jury trials were scheduled for the final five months of 2020, although some would likely be pleaded out. Some 374 jury trials were held in 2019.
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