Connecticut courts postpone jury trials as coronavirus spreads

Connecticut courts are suspending jury trials for both criminal and civil cases in the state for 30 days in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus.

Courts will make an exception for jury trials that are currently in progress and will also allow criminal jury trials that have been granted a speedy trial motion to proceed.

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Gov. Ned Lamont declared a public health emergency throughout the state on Tuesday after six cases of COVID-19 were confirmed. In total, the state's laboratories have tested 95 people for the virus, with the majority of the cases testing negative.

Chief U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill for the District of Connecticut said in the court mandate made under "exigent circumstances" Thursday that "trial jurors often have to work in close quarters to hear the evidence and deliberate following presentation of the evidence," which he fears could further spread the virus through community contact.

"The judges of the District Court are deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our employees and visitors to our courthouses, and we are taking precautions to ensure courthouses remain open, people feel safe, and services remain available," Underhill said in a statement.

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The decision regarding the courts comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently advised people to minimize the spread of the COVID- 19 virus through social distancing.