Circuit Court is session today, though no jury trials, grand jury selection until further notice

Published 9:06 am Monday, August 9, 2021

Lincoln County Circuit Court is in session today — Monday, Aug. 9 — though the court will have no jury trials or grand jury selections until further notice.

The decision comes after the Supreme Court of Mississippi issued Emergency Administrative Order 21 on Thursday.

The emergency order gives individual judges discretion to adopt safety measures. Judges have discretion to postpone jury trials scheduled through Sept. 10. The order calls for use of teleconferencing, videoconferencing and electronic filing to limit in-person contact in courts. The order allows felony plea hearings, felony sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be conducted remotely by way of interactive audiovisual equipment.

Chief Justice Randolph in EA Order 21 said, “If not otherwise prohibited, all courts are urged to limit in-person, courtroom contact as much as possible by utilizing available technologies, including electronic filing, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing.”

The order said, “Any in-person proceedings shall be limited to attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers, members of the press, and other necessary persons, as determined by the trial judge.”

Randolph said that all courts have a constitutional and statutory responsibility to remain open. The order sets out a list of more than a dozen kinds of proceedings which must be conducted in person if remote technology is unavailable or not feasible.

The criminal term and grand jury which were scheduled to begin Tuesday, Aug. 10, have therefore been cancelled.

The order also allows individual judges to determine whether other court dockets will continue as scheduled.

Status and motion hearings scheduled for Monday, Aug. 9, continued before Judge David Strong, though everyone attending is required to wear face coverings over nose and mouth, exercise social distancing including a vacant seat between each person, applicable to all persons attending.

Motion hearings are projected to resume Monday, Aug. 23.