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Southwest Judicial Court suspends jury trials due to COVID-19

The Southwest Court District is suspending all jury trials as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on the Western Edge.

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Stark County District Court has suspended jury trials due to the high rising number of COVID-19 cases. (Press File Photo)

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in North Dakota in recent months, the Southwest Judicial District announced Wednesday that it will be suspending jury trials until further notice.

“After consultation with the judges of the district and considering new levels of increases of positive COVID-19 cases across the Southwest Judicial District, it is ordered that all jury trials in the Southwest Judicial District will be suspended until further notice,” according to the letter signed by Presiding District Judge William A. Herauf.

Any other hearing associated with a jury trial, including but not limited to pre-trails will still remain scheduled. The parties will be given at least a two-weeks notice of when trails will resume, the letter stated.

A state of emergency was declared by Gov. Doug Burgum March 13 in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, leading for judicial systems and other government entities to operate on different platforms such as conducting bond hearings through virtual means instead of having defendants present in-person in courtrooms.

The news comes only a day after North Dakota Department of Health officials confirmed 37 COVID-19 related deaths, a single-day high for a state in crisis.

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More than 883 North Dakotans have succumbed to the virus since March, with November now leading the record books for the deadliest month on record since the pandemic began.

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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