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Wednesday, 25 March 2020 09:54

No Jury trials

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The lord chief justice this morning announced that new trials will be halted in the Crown court until specific arrangements have been made to ensure buildings are safe.

Lord Burnett of Maldon said his ‘unequivocal position’ is that no jury trials or other physical hearings can take place unless it was safe for them to do so. No new trials will start this morning and jurors summoned for this week are being contacted to ask them to stay at home, although they may be called in to start a new trial later. Lord Burnett said all hearings in the Crown court that can lawfully take place remotely should do so and other hearings not involving a jury should continue if arrangements can be made to ensure distancing.But some hearings cannot be conducted remotely and the LCJ has decided to pause jury trials for a short time to enable 'appropriate precautions' to be put in place. He added that efforts to bring existing jury trials to a conclusion should continue, in line with social distancing guidelines. If it is necessary to adjourn trials underway for a short period to put safety measures in place, this should be done. The same considerations apply to magistrates’ courts, which will need to continue to deal with urgent work, in accordance with guidance given by the judiciary to judges and staff, the lord chief justice said. All hearings that can lawfully take place remotely should do so if the facilities exist.

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