Jury trials ramp up in Maricopa County: What changes to expect

People across the country got a slight break from jury duty, as courts were not hearing cases with juries and did most things virtually. But that's slowly changing.

"We’re not quite there yet," said Matthew Martin, jury administrator. "We have, since the 31st of August, held 92 different trials."

After being temporarily on hold due to the pandemic, it's ramping up again.

"Although it looks a little bit different, it feels a little bit different because some of our courtrooms are not large enough to seat all the jurors in the jury box," said Danielle Viola, Superior Court judge for Maricopa County. "That’s typically where jurors will sit during jury selection."

At the Maricopa County Superior Court, they're making space, spreading jurors out, and separating them with plexiglass partitions. Non-jury proceedings are typically virtual.

"We’re definitely not running full speed and back to normal," said attorney Russ Richelsoph.

Richelsoph says the new rules come with their own challenges when presenting a case.

"Normally we have the jury in a jury box," the attorney said. "They’re all together. You can present things to the jury box. With the jury more spread out, the presentation is definitely more spread out."

It is not required to have the COVID-19 vaccine to serve, but virus concerns will be considered.

"For those folks who are expressing a concern about serving they can share that with us, we have a judge who reviews that information on a daily basis," Viola said.

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