Mississippi’s high court allows for jury trials to resume in some counties

Mississippi’s Supreme Court issued an executive order on Thursday that allows for some counties to resume jury trials.

The state had suspended those trials on March 13 through an executive order in an effort to promote social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the high court allowed that for counties with two or fewer deaths in the county, clerks could again begin issuing jury summonses and resume jury trials.

“The most recent MSDH-published data reflects that of Mississippi’s 82 counties, only one county has reported zero cases, and 40 counties have reported two or fewer deaths,” the order said in part.

Based on that information, the court issued the following:

“In counties with two or fewer reported deaths attributed to COVID-19 by the
MSDH as of the date of entry of this Order, judges may instruct their clerks that jury
summonses may be sent to jurors that would be returnable on or after May 18, 2020.”

Judges in those counties also have the discretion to postpone jury trials until June 12.

In South Mississippi, counties that meet that criteria are George (1 death), Greene (1) and Stone (0) counties. The other counties in the lower judicial districts — Harrison (6), Hancock (9), Jackson (11) and Pearl River (24) — do not fall within those guidelines.

In those counties, jury summonses will be sent with potential jurors instructed not to return prior to June 15. Exemptions for health, illness and personal hardship related to COVID-19 will be included in the summons.

Each judge presiding over drug-intervention courts is authorized to modify the
scheduling of drug testing and home-supervision visits as they see fit through June 12.

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