A Letter from Judge Craig Carter: Jury Duty and COVID-19

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Circuit Courts of Wright, Douglas, and Ozark counties have postponed many cases, and have utilized various techniques for in-person cases in an attempt to both keep our citizens safe, as well as to keep the case load moving.

Our courts now have several cases, both civil and criminal, which must be decided by a jury trial. Such trials are guaranteed by our Constitution, and as one court recently stated, our Constitution “is not suspended when the government declares a disaster.”

It takes a lot of people to conduct a jury trial, and there are many moving parts. To keep our citizens safe, our Circuit Courts will be utilizing the following measures in order to ensure the safety of all persons during the upcoming jury trials:

Jury selection will occur at a church with a large area to seat the entire jury pool (to allow for social distancing during the jury questioning process).

Temperature screening upon entrance each day.

Disposable masks or covering are required by the Supreme Court of Missouri and will be provided if you do not arrive with a mask.

Social Distancing- Jurors will be kept 6 feet apart at all times during juror selection and in the courtroom.

Social Distancing- Once the jury has been selected, jurors will not be seated together in the jury box, and will instead be seated six ( 6) feet apart throughout the courtroom.

Courtroom doors will be lock.

Frequent cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day

Hand sanitizer available throughout the building.

HEP A air filtration systems have been installed in both the Courtrooms and jury rooms.

A sound system has been installed in the main courtroom to ensure that all jurors can hear proceedings.

There will be larger jury break rooms to allow for social distancing during both breaks and jury deliberations.

The court is moving court personnel between counties during jury trials, in order to help with personnel flow.

If you have any questions or concerns about jury duty, please contact your Circuit Clerk for further clarification about upcoming jury trials. For myself and all of the courthouse staff, I would to thank our citizens for their understanding during this Covid-19 pandemic. Please know that we are doing everything we can to both safeguard our citizens as well as to ensure our citizens have timely access to the justice system.

Your servant,

Craig Carter

Presiding Judge

44th Judicial Circuit