For Now, Many Pa. Jury Trials Continue through Omicron Spike
As courts across the country announce pauses to their in-person proceedings, Pennsylvania’s courts have been largely subdued in their responses to the post-holiday surge in COVID cases caused by the omicron variant.
As of Thursday afternoon, no local or appellate courts in the state listed any orders updating their policies, but some trials are nonetheless being postponed.
“It’s odd,” said Dan Rhynhart, co-chair of Blank Rome’s litigation department. He said he’s seen trials that had been scheduled for January be postponed in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., and across the Northeast, but juries are still being called in Pennsylvania. Rhynhart said oral arguments in the state’s appellate courts, however, are shifting back to virtual.
Whether COVID’s progression in the coming days and weeks will bring about a pause to in-person proceedings is still unclear so early in the surge, said Rhynhart. “We’re all playing the same speculation games,” he said. “I think that’s true with the judicial system as well.”
Specter said he believes that Philadelphia’s existing safety protocols are strong enough to support in-person trials through the rising case numbers and commended the court’s commitment to creating procedures that support continued trials.
Rhynhart, too, said that Philadelphia has already demonstrated that it can safely conduct jury trials and expects them to still occur even with the new variant.
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“For Now, Many Pa. Jury Trials Continue through Omicron Spike” by Aleeza Furman was published in The Legal Intelligencer on January 6, 2022.