COVID-19 has brought the U.S. criminal justice system to a near halt. The vast majority of criminal and civil cases have been in limbo as the courts wrestle with the best manner in which to safely reopen and commence business once again. While jurisdictions across the country share the goal of making personal safety the primary goal, determining how to achieve this objective, while honoring individual rights during trials, has proven more difficult. Different jurisdictions are attempting to implement ‘best practices’ but there lacks uniformity in the effort.
On May 2, 2020, Ian Friedman, in his role as the president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, requested authorization from the Supreme Court of Ohio, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, to form a statewide advisory group to help determine how to best resume jury trials. Once approved, Ian formed a collaborative effort that included civil plaintiff and defense lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors, court reporters, clerks of court, sheriff’s deputies and bailiffs. Participating groups and bar associations from each Ohio county represented approximately 50,000 individuals in total. Additionally, the Ohio Governor’s office and Ohio Department of Health joined the effort which allowed for a productive union of legal and medical analysis and suggestions.
On May 12, 2020, the final report was submitted to the Chief Justice. It addresses the many facets of a jury trial. Since submission, several jurisdictions from across the country have requested a copy of the Report and Recommendations for use in their regional courts.
Click here to read the report in full.