Maryland state courts have resumed operations for the first time in five months amid the coronavirus pandemic, but now face a heap of cases that has accumulated during that time.
The order issued Tuesday by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera allows jury trials to take place and lets judges deal with the backlog of felony cases, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Barbera told prospective jurors in a video posted online there were zero instances of the coronavirus being spread when the state courts conducted 88 jury trials between October and November.
“Those called for jury service can be assured that we will continue to safeguard, as much as we reasonably can, the health of the public including jurors,” the chief judge said, The Sun reported.
Maryland courthouses have been nearly empty for almost a year, with some proceedings taking place on Zoom, but jury trials were halted. The courts will operate at Phase B of the emergency, meaning many proceedings will remain virtual and if one is called for jury duty, they will be screened at the courthouse door and kept distant from others.