XENIA — Jury trials will resume in Greene County Common Pleas Court this month — although they will look a little different than usual.
Criminal jury trials will begin again in Courtroom 1 on Monday, June 15, according to Mark Donatelli, court administrator.
Greene County Public Health and Greene County Risk Management representatives inspected the courtroom, and examined a new set of jury trial protocols developed by Judge Stephen A. Wolaver, a release from the court said.
“Both agencies are satisfied that the Courtroom will accommodate proper masking and social distancing of jurors and other trial participants, and provide a safe environment consistent with existing CDC guidelines,” the release said.
According to Donatelli, Wolaver and Judge Michael A. Buckwalter will share Courtroom 1 for trials on a staggered schedule for the time being. Courtroom 2, also on the second floor and normally used for Buckwalter’s docket, may be too small to accommodate a trial at this time, he said, citing GCPH. The court is looking into whether or not that courtroom can be modified to align with guidelines.
Donatelli said the court is also currently making modifications to Courtroom 3 in the basement — which is slightly larger — to accommodate trials.
Prospective jurors can expect new procedures while appearing at the courthouse for jury duty. Wolaver will soon file an order to officially outline the trial protocols.
According to Donatelli, the prospective jurors will be summoned in two groups of 18, separated by two hours. The lobby of the second floor will be marked off for social distancing during jury selection.
“The first group will be questioned and then the second, if necessary, to seat a full panel,” Donatelli said in an email.
Instead of sitting in the jury box, jurors will sit in the gallery of the courtroom to hear the case and deliberate. The court will provide a mask and sanitizer to each juror.
The jury box will be used for a limited number of spectators.
Citizens who have been summoned and are concerned about safety will be able to share those thoughts with the court.
“A week prior to the trial, the jurors will be contacted by phone, and if they express concerns or indicate high risk factors, they will be excused from participating,” Donatelli said.
Any prospective juror who has questions regarding his or her summons may call the jury commissioner at 937-562-5970 or Wolaver’s court at 937-562-5218.
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