Eight courthouses in Vermont, including the including the state courthouses in Rutland and Barre, are ready to resume jury trials, according to a release from the Vermont Judiciary.
Since March 2020, no jury trials have been allowed in Vermont after the judiciary, following on the actions of the Scott administration, declared a state of emergency.
The other courthouses ready for resumption of jury trials are the county courthouses in Woodstock, Hyde Park, Chelsea and Burlington and the state courthouses in St. Johnsbury, and Brattleboro. Approval is expected soon for jury trials at state court facilities in St. Albans, Bennington, Middlebury and Burlington.
The county court in Rutland is expected to be approved later this spring.
Judiciary leaders spent the last year overseeing the construction of appropriate barriers, testing and improving air circulation and filtration, and developing process and facility enhancements to allow for social distancing.
Justice Harold Eaton, of the Vermont Supreme Court said he was “extremely proud” of the work and planning done by multiple members of the judiciary and the employees of the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services.
“These colleagues knew how important it is to give Vermonters safe access to justice, even in a pandemic,” he said in a statement.
It is not clear when trials will resume.
“We had several trials ready to go last month, with an available jury and a building that was approved for use. As is often the case when trials are imminent, those cases were settled. That’s fine — the important thing is our ability to offer a trial with a jury of one’s peers to each party awaiting the opportunity to have their cases heard,” Eaton said.
The Judiciary has also made progress toward conducting some civil trials remotely.
Justice Karen Carroll said the judiciary doesn't have the same constraints with civil trials as with criminal trials.
“Still, there are details we need to work through,” she said in a statement.
Carroll said members of the judiciary who are looking at ways to safely begin jury trials again are “excited by the prospect that we will soon begin to hold remote civil trials.”