The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on the court system, but now, after a more than two month hiatus, the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court is planning to resume in-person criminal jury trials on June 15th.
That means people will soon be receiving jury summons to appear in person.
"If people don't necessarily feel comfortable participating in the process due to health concerns, they shouldn't be required to sit, and I think the judges and the county has looked at that appropriately," said Taylor Ernst, Ernst Law Group trial lawyer.
Some of the new safety measures include: online questionnaires that will allow jurors to request to be excused for hardship prior to reporting in person, summoning smaller juror pools to maintain social distancing, and larger venues used for jury selections and deliberations.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow sees some potential challenges for selecting a jury pool, including those over the age of 65.
"If someone has an illness, or if they are currently sick, they should absolutely not come in," said Dow. "If they have concerns, they should still come in and they should tell the court what their concerns are. And the court will address those concerns on a case by case basis."
If you are selected to be a juror, trials will also have a different feel.
"Masks are going to be able to be used and jurors are going to be able to be further apart," said Ernst.
Summoned jurors who have health concerns related to COVID-19 will be allowed to defer their service to a future date.
The Santa Barbara County Superior Court has also started expanding operations this week, but criminal jury trials aren't planned to begin until at least July 16th.