The Allen Circuit and Superior Courts are extending their pause on jury trials due to continued COVID concerns.
The Fort Wayne-based courts announced Monday that all jury trials will be halted until at least Feb. 28. All Allen County circuit and superior judges supported the continuation, according to a news release.
The jury trial pause began on Jan. 24 “due to the dramatic increase in positive COVID-19 cases and illnesses among litigants, jurors, prosecutors and other staff.” At that time, COVID numbers in Allen County far exceeded the levels experienced when jury trials were halted in April and December 2020.
The continuation was originally scheduled to end Feb. 14 but has now been extended by at least two weeks.
“We are anxious to resume jury trials, but not until it’s safe to do so,” Judge Fran Gull, administrative judge of the Allen Superior Court, Criminal Division, said in a news release. “COVID cases in our community are falling, but we have more progress to make before we get underway again. The safety of the participants and jurors has to remain our number one priority.”
Bench trials, sentencings and guilty pleas will continue to take place as scheduled while jury trials are halted. The continuation announced Monday is estimated to impact about 60 jury trials.
Residents who received a jury summons for a date between Feb. 14 and 25 can disregard the notice, the courts said.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, Allen County’s seven-day positivity rate for all COVID-19 tests was 30.15% as of Jan. 31. All 92 Indiana counties remain in the “red” COVID advisory level, which indicates a seven-day positivity rate of 15% or more.