Jury duty? No thanks, say many, forcing trials to be delayed
But court officials told him that is not a valid reason and he must appear in court in early December. But court officials told him that is not a valid reason and he must appear in court early next month. Within the past month, courts in Hartford, Connecticut, San Diego and Norfolk, Virginia, have had to delay jury selection for trials because too few people responded to jury duty summonses. The non-response rates are much higher now than they were before the pandemic, court officials say. In San Diego, a criminal case had to be postponed last month because too few people showed up for jury duty.
Courts straining to balance public health with public access
But problems with public access have persisted, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of Brown and several others who have been unable to watch court sessions. The situation in Kern County highlights the challenges courts across the U.S. are facing as they try to balance public health protections with public access to their proceedings amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a public trial, but some courts have held arraignments and other pretrial hearings without the public watching or listening. Remote court proceedings also have been used in civil cases in some states, with mixed results. The court's website directed the public to contact a judge's office to get the access code to watch particular proceedings.