SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Sacramento County courts opened back up in June, but the prior shutdown has had officials rifling through more cases than they can handle at the moment.
"In every area of our court operations, we have backlogs," said Kim Pedersen, spokesperson for Sacramento Superior Court. "Some more significant than others."
She said courts reopened in phases, and that each phase was different for each case type. Areas like Family Law and Criminal jury trials have some of the bigger backlogs.
"For months, we didn’t even handle our misdemeanor cases," Pedersen said. Obviously, when you open back up, you have to address the oldest cases first.
Summoned for Jury Duty
Even though the coronavirus is still around, jurors are still required to show up when summoned. The big change they'll likely notice is how they are handled after being summoned.
Pedersen said jurors report for duty in two to four different groups, all arriving at staggered times. The move minimizes the number of jurors reporting for service at any one time. Even then, jurors will be socially distanced and spread out among three different courtrooms during selection.
Other safety measures include mandatory face coverings, temperature screenings, and enhanced sanitation. The courthouse says anyone sick or showing COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed in the facility.
More information can be found the court's coronavirus advisory video below:
Pedersen said Sacramento Superior Court has also delayed jury duty service for anyone who is 65 years or older and doesn't want to serve during the pandemic. However, the other jurors are still required to show up when summoned.
"The alternative is if we don’t have jurors, then the criminal case is dismissed - which could cause major public safety concerns [in] the community," Pedersen said.
She said criminal trials are the only restricted area that adds the complexities of managing a jury and in-person participation. With that, the number of criminal jury trials they run at one time has been downsized to adhere to social distancing and avoiding large groups.
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