By: Mick Stinelli
Lori Azzara commented for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on civil jury trials resuming in Allegheny County. She stated that due to the financial effects of the pandemic, people are eager to move forward in civil cases and get a settlement, “even more so now, I think it’s important to be sensitive to how long they’ve been without money.”
Allegheny County has picked an unusual spot to start the process of resuming jury trials: the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Jury selection will begin Wednesday in two large convention center halls, each housing a maximum of 80 potential jurors. Chairs will be spread out several feet apart so people can distance themselves from one another. Traffic court already is using the building, and other areas will be used for civil cases.
Jury trials were put on hold in March, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered all state courts to close during the earliest weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak. Other counties in the region have already resumed jury trials.
“The right to a trial by jury is one of the fundamental rights of U.S. citizenship, but due to the pandemic, there has not been a jury trial held in Allegheny County for the last six months,” Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Kim Berkeley Clark wrote in a recent statement.