COVID-19 concerns have delayed jury trials in Sacramento until at least mid-January, but residents received summons for jury duty in the mail this week. Courts officials reiterated that jury proceedings remain suspended by court order because of the pandemic. Some people who spoke to and emailed the Sacramento Bee were confused and angered by the mailed requests and wondered whether they would have to fulfill their civic duty in the tight quarters of a jurors’ box in the middle of a pandemic. The confusion likely arose because summons have to be in the mail weeks ahead of a prospective juror’s potential service.
The Sacramento Superior Court issued an order Dec. 21 suspending jury trials and jury service until Jan. 18 except for trials in progress. Sacramento attorney Kathryn Tyler said her brother received his summons for jury service this week. She ticked off the risks to jurors and court workers if jury trials were to proceed. “I’m extremely concerned for judges, court personnel, jurors — to me it’s a superspreader,” Tyler said. “A large part of the jury pool are seniors. They’re at risk. I’m really concerned about that. This is just insane.” Prospective jurors still must call in to the court on their reporting dates “in the event we have a case that cannot be continued due to it being the last day of the defendant’s right to a speedy trial,” said court spokeswoman Kim Pedersen.