Jury trial suspension extended because of escalating COVID-19 cases

View of the jury box on Oct. 5, 2017 in the Christopher Strawn trial. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
View of the jury box during a break in a recent homicide trial in Juneau. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

There will be no jury trials in Alaska’s courthouses until at least Jan. 4.

Earlier this summer, Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger said he planned for jury trials for misdemeanor cases only to resume Nov. 2.

But in an order signed Friday, Bolger wrote that the suspension would continue due to escalating case counts of COVID-19. He also noted that Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s video address on Thursday encouraged state employees to work from home.

There was never a plan to resume trials for felonies or more serious cases because they require more people to gather at the courthouse for the jury selection process.

In-person grand jury proceedings are also suspended until Jan. 4. But Bolger said other court hearings or proceedings can still be held remotely through videoconference or teleconference.