ROCKINGHAM — Richmond 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.
This link (https://www.nccourts.gov/locations/richmond-county/richmond-county-local-rules-and-forms) can refer you to the Jury Trial Resumption Plan for Richmond County. That plan was approved by Chief Justice Beasley and the North Carolina Administration.
The first jury trials in Richmond County are expected to be held Jan. 18, 2021. Summonses for potential jurors were sent Oct. 19, 2020 by the Clerk of Superior Court of Richmond County. Those individuals summonsed for potential jury service shall appear and report at the Richmond County Judicial Center in Rockingham at 9 a.m. on Monday, the 4th day of January 2021.
“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 Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Stephan Futrell. “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.”
Since March, 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, district attorney, clerk of superior court, public defender [or defense bar], 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 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 and may be required to answer screening questions and have their temperature taken or told to wait outside until their case is called. Safety measures are in place at the Richmond County courthouse including:
- Social distancing is required in our courthouse. The capacity of our courtrooms has been dramatically reduced and seats have been marked to provide a 6 feet space and alterations. Jury pools will not be assembled in the customary large groups.
- Everyone entering or remaining in the courthouse must wear a mask face covering unless they meet specific exceptions.
- The temperature of every person entering the courthouse is measured by a non- touch device. If the device finds a temperature 100.4 ◦F or more, access will be denied.
- Hand sanitizer is being provided at each courthouse entrance and in the courtrooms.
- The courthouse is being cleaned daily and frequently touched areas are cleaned continuously throughout the day.
Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5p.m.
For the latest information regarding the status of our courts, visit https://www.nccourts.gov/covid-19.