Jury trials to resume in Georgia after second suspension

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton (Supreme Court of Georgia).

An order from the Georgia Supreme Court is lifting the suspension of jury trials, effective immediately. 

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court of Georgia said Chief Justice Harold D. Melton issued the order to resume jury trials.

The order says trial courts may resume "if that can be done safely and in accordance with a final jury trial plan developed in collaboration with the local committee of judicial system participants and incorporated into the court’s written operating guidelines for in-person proceedings."

It's been nearly one year since the Statewide Judicial Emergency put jury trials were first put on pause — March 14, 2020. 

Melton lifted the suspension in October 2020, but a spike in cases prompted the suspension on Dec. 23, 2020.

RELATED: Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Melton stepping down

Tuesday's order is in response to a steady decline in COVID-19 cases. 

"Thus, pursuant to this order, the prohibition against conducting jury trials is lifted and trial courts, in their discretion, may resume jury trials as local conditions allow," the order says.

The state spokesperson said Tuesday's order is identical to the order Melton signed on Feb. 7, with the exception of the section on jury trials. As with previous orders, this one urges all courts to use technology to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings where practicable and lawful.

The order extends the Statewide Judicial Emergency for 30 days, until April 8.

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