As courts prepare for the return of jury trials, workgroup steps up juror education effort
With more than half of Florida counties now in Phase 2 and a number of circuits in active preparation for a limited return of jury trials, the state courts are ramping up the dissemination of educational material for prospective jurors.
The Supreme Court’s Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19 has produced a number of videos, social media graphics, and messaging for the resumption of jury trials to provide information about new procedures in place at courthouses and for people responding to summonses for jury service. The videos may be seen at www.Steps2SafeCourts.org.
The Office of the State Courts Administrator is also posting graphics about courts’ operational statuses across the state on its website and social media accounts. The statuses for counties and district courts of appeal are regularly updated.
“Resumption of jury trials is an important next step as health conditions improve. We’ve always tried to convey the essential role jurors play, and that’s only more true now,” said Judge Lisa Munyon, chair of the Court Continuity Workgroup. “Our courts and our clerks are taking evidence-based steps to resume jury service responsibly. These videos and messages help spread the word about what is being done to protect the health and safety of participants, including jurors. Prospective jurors, in turn, are helping protect our rights and liberties by serving.”
The Florida Hispanic Bar Association and the Haitian Lawyers Association also worked to translate the Safe Steps educational materials from the workgroup into Spanish and Creole. The volunteer translators were Victoria Mesa-Estrada of the Southern Poverty Law Center and Nadine Gedeon of Gedeon & Morales Law Group in Hollywood. The 11th Judicial Circuit’s Office of Government Liaison & Public Relations has also assisted to workgroup with translations.
The minute-long public service announcements emphasize social distancing measures being implemented in courthouses across the state, the extra care being taken to continuously clean and disinfect courthouses, and the need to wear masks when doing business at the courthouses. The videos and other messaging are being distributed to the 20 judicial circuits’ public information officers and clerks’ offices across the state to be posted on circuit websites and used on social media platforms. The Safe Steps messaging was produced by a collaborative group of staff from the trial courts, the OSCA, The Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers, and The Florida Bar.