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Suspension Of Florida Jury Trials During COVID-19 Extended

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge Chris Helinger, center, has a discussion at the bench with attorneys during jury selection in a 2019 murder trial.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge Chris Helinger, center, has a discussion at the bench with attorneys during jury selection in a 2019 murder trial.

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady on Monday issued an order extending through July 17 a suspension of criminal and civil jury trials because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canady initially issued the suspension in March and subsequently extended it to July 2. Last week, the Supreme Court also announced a pilot program in five judicial circuits aimed at using remote technology to conduct civil jury trials.

The circuits that will take part are the 4th Judicial Circuit, made up of Duval, Clay and Nassau counties; the 7th Judicial Circuit, made up of St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties; the 9th Judicial Circuit, made up of Orange and Osceola counties; the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County; and the 20th Judicial Circuit, made up of Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

On Monday, Canady directed the circuits to report findings and recommendations of the pilot program by Oct. 2. Also on Monday, Canady extended the suspension of a statewide grand jury through July 26.

That grand jury has investigated the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.

The Supreme Court last month issued an order designed to ensure the statewide grand jury will have enough time to finish its work after the coronavirus-caused suspension ends.

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