It's been more than six months since an in-person jury trial was held at San Diego County's Superior Court, and after months of preparation that's about to change.
Inside San Diego Superior Court COVID-19 safety measures are in place in order to make the first potential jurors to arrive feel comfortable, says San Diego Superior Court's Court Executive Officer Mike Roddy
“The first thing that people will notice is the number of jurors in the courthouse will be dramatically less,” Roddy said.
Down from 400 to 75 and all socially distanced. Temperatures will be taken and COVID-19 screening questions answered before they come in.
The court will also provide hand sanitizer and PPE and clean frequently.
“I would think with the courts taking this long to open that there really be an abundance of caution,” said San Diego resident Ernest Lotecka.
An additional form with instructions was mailed with the jury summons to help people with pre-existing conditions, or who are responsible for children at home.
“The whole purpose is to identify people who are concerned about coming in. Our effort will be to defer them or excuse them, so that we are left with people who feel they are willing and able to serve,” Roddy said.
Inside the courtroom there is plexiglass just about everywhere to separate jurors in the jury box, the seats at counsel tables, the judge and witness stand.
Everyone must wear a mask in the courthouse. During trial the judge will set policy.
The Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's Office will oversee the health screening of defendants and witnesses.
“If I was called up. I'd be ok with it. I feel it's important to get it started again,” said Oceanside resident Zelma Cruz.
Jury selection and cases will take longer.
The court has a lot of work ahead of it with an estimated backlog of 800 criminal cases.
The court admits that even with all of the precautions there's still a risk that someone involved in a case could contract COVID-19, but they are doing all they can to keep that from happening.