The Snohomish County Superior Court on Wednesday announced the suspension of jury trials until at least Jan. 8, 2021.
A statement was released by the Honorable Bruce I. Weiss, Snohomish County Superior Court Presiding Judge cited the rising number of COVID-19 cases statewide and locally. “This has been a very difficult decision to make, but it is the right decision based on the extraordinary circumstances that we currently face,” Weiss said.
Weiss pointed to the new set of restrictions issued Nov. 15 by Gov. Jay Inslee based on the rising number of COVID-19 cases, which established new restrictions for indoor social gatherings, decreased capacity in restaurants and retailers, and other crowd-limiting measures. He also cited the Nov. 17 Snohomish Health District media briefing, during which Dr. Chris Spitters described the rise as “explosive,” expressing fear over the rising utilization of hospital capacity as well as the steady increase of COVID-19 related deaths.
“Changes in behavior are needed to combat the current spike in COVID-19 cases. The Superior Court is not exempt from the need to take steps to push the curve down and keep people safe,” Weiss said. “Temporarily suspending jury trials is the most responsible course of action for our court to take at this moment. The safety and well-being of our community demands it.
“While the court has made significant modifications to jury trial operations in order to keep jurors safe, holding these trials still requires the court to gather large groups of Snohomish County citizens together indoors,” Weiss continued. “The current rate of COVID-19 cases in our community would push our safety measures to their breaking point. It is simply not worth the risk at this time.”
The court will be “carefully monitoring COVID-19 cases this winter and will continue to keep the community informed of any other modifications that are necessary to keep our residents safe, while also providing access to justice,” he added.