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Many Colorado courts suspend jury trials due to COVID

Trials in at least nine judicial districts in Colorado are impacted at this time.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Numerous judicial districts in Colorado are suspending jury trials and due to high COVID-19 case counts.

The 1st, 2nd, 6th, 9th, 14th, 18th, 19th and 20th judicial districts have suspended all jury trials in their districts.

Aurora Municipal Court also said on Monday that all jury trials scheduled between Tuesday and Jan. 27 are postponed.

Each order said that the respective districts are monitoring COVID data in their counties and can be extended, revoked or adjusted as the presiding judges see fit. 

RELATED: Aurora Municipal Court jury trials postponed in January

> Video above: Colorado updates quarantine guidelines for surging omicron variant.

1st Judicial District

On Dec. 31, Chief Judge Jeffrey Pilkington issued an order the suspending jury trials in Gilpin and Jefferson counties through Feb. 15. Any trials already in progress are not impacted by the order, and presiding judges can exercise discretion moving forward.

"As it has throughout the pandemic, the court will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 data and rely on the recommendations of local health officials," Pilkington's order said.

Pilkington said that COVID rates in Gilpin and Jefferson counties are showing rates comparable to before the vaccines were available.

2nd Judicial District

Late Tuesday an order was issued suspending jury trials in the 2nd Judicial District for District Court, Probate Court, Juvenile Court, and County Court through Jan. 28.

Denver District Court is also temporarily modifying its court operations through Jan. 28 as follows:

  • Court proceedings will be conducted virtually, to the greatest extent possible
  •  Individual judges will retain discretion to hear those matters deemed essential and, as necessary, in person. 
  • Denver District Court will be implementing revised operations, including situational work from home, and staffing which will remain in effect until further notice
  • Denver County Court will maintain its current practice of in-person proceedings with an option to accommodate virtual proceedings for parties who so request due to a positive COVID test, are experiencing symptoms, or other COVID concerns.

6th Judicial District

On Sep. 21, Chief Justice Jeffrey Wilson extended an order suspending jury trials in La Plata County until further notice due to high COVID metrics. 

"The chief judge of the 6th Judicial District has determined it is not safe to allow the number of citizens into the hallways and courtrooms in of the La Plata County Courthouse necessary to conduct jury trial," the order says.

The order was first issued on May 6, and does not apply to Archuleta or San Juan counties.

7th Judicial District

On Oct. 28, Chief Judge J. Steven Patrick issued an order suspending jury trials in Montrose and Delta counties due to COVID high positivity rates and hospital capacity concerns. 

The order said Patrick will evaluate COVID data on a weekly basis in Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties to determine which will have jury trials proceed or suspended.

The order remains in effect until further notice.

9th Judicial District

On Dec. 14, Chief Judge James Boyd issued an order reinstating health metrics to the district's jury trial plan, after they were dropped from the plan in July.

"Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a resurgence since the Court’s last order in July 2021, and the present circumstances do warrant reinstatement of health criteria," Boyd said in the order.

Boyd said jury trials will not place in Garfield, Pitkin or Rio Blanco counties if any of the following criteria applies, according to data provided by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE):

  • The one-week incidence rate is over 300 
  • The one-week positivity rate is over 7.5%
  • The duration of stable or decreasing hospital admissions is seven days or less 

The order also says judges can confer with Boyd and exercise their discretion to either continue or postpone a trial based on COVID data. 

RELATED: Too early to know when omicron will peak in Colorado, state health leaders say

14th Judicial District

On Dec. 30, Chief Judge Michael O'Hara issued an order suspending jury trials in Grand, Moffat and Routt counties through Feb. 14.

"This situation will be continuously monitored and this order is subject to change on short," O'Hara said in the order.

17th Judicial District

On Jan. 3, Chief Judge Don Quick issued an order suspending jury trials in Adams and Broomfield counties through Jan. 28, with the possibility for exceptions.

The court also asked judicial officers to review non-trial dockets to determine which hearing can be done via webex, and how to accomplish social distancing for cases that are in-person hearings.

18th Judicial District

On Dec. 30, Chief Judge Michelle Amico issued an order suspending jury trials in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties that is effective from Jan. 3 through Jan. 28.

The order says Amico can extend, rescind or modify it based on multiple factors, including COVID-19 data that is being monitored.

Amico said in the order that the latest data show that COVID incidence and positivity rates in those four counties higher than before vaccinations were available, including the highest one-week cumulative incidence rates in Arapahoe and Douglas counties since the pandemic began.

"These statistics are higher than those seen even prior to the availability of vaccinations and are extremely concerning in light of the large numbers of people summoned to appear for jury trials on any given week," Amico said in the order.

Amico also said hospital capacity in the counties in her district is a major concern.

"The hospitals in both Arapahoe and Douglas Counties are under strain, with 100% of ICU beds full and approximately 99% of non-ICU beds full," Amico said. "There is no hospital in Elbert County, and there is only a very small hospital in Lincoln County. Thus, those two counties must send individuals who need a certain level of care to hospitals in other counties, such as either Douglas or Arapahoe County."

19th Judicial District

Chief Judge James Hartmann issued an order suspending jury trials in Weld County through Jan. 28.

"Since the COVID-19 virus first clenched its unrelenting grip on the people of Colorado in March 2020, I have issued numerous orders designed to continue providing the necessary services the public expects and deserves from the 19th Judicial District courts and probation, during the ever-changing public health circumstances related to this pandemic," Hartmann said in his order. "Based on the rising coronavirus numbers in Weld County, and particularly the rapid increase in positivity rates for the Omicron variant, I find that we are not able to safely assemble jurors in the 19th Judicial District.

"I will continue to closely monitor the COVID data for Weld County and I reserve the right to modify, revise, or extend Administrative Order 2021-13 at any time, based on then-existing data, health-related considerations, input from the members of the bench, and all other circumstances impacting court operations," Hartmann said.

20th Judicial District

On Jan. 3, Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke issued an order suspending jury trials in Boulder County through Jan. 28. 

"COVID data for Boulder County will be closely monitored and this Administrative Order may be modified, revised, or extended at any time, based on then-existing data, health-related considerations, input from the members of the bench and all other circumstances impacting court operations," Bakke said.

RELATED: Colorado updates quarantine guidelines for surging omicron variant

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