LOGAN — After more than 15 months of being put on hold, jury trials and other in person hearings will soon be resuming in northern Utah.
Friday afternoon, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant issued an order, allowing the state courts and justice courts to operate in the yellow phase, instead of the red phase which only allowed virtual hearings. The order begins Monday.
Under Friday’s direction, court locations were given flexibility to determine how best to schedule court proceedings. While courts may continue to schedule remote hearings, the order authorizes courts to expand the use of in person hearings and trials.
Currently scheduled hearings will not change, and many hearings will continue to be conducted remotely. Each hearing notice will inform parties whether they need to appear in person for the hearing.
According to a press release, Chief Justice Durrant’s order is in response to the most recent guidance from the Center for Disease Control, the reduction and stabilization of the number of COVID cases in the state, and increased vaccination rates.
“The health and safety of those who come into our courthouses seeking justice, and the health and safety of our staff and judges, is and will always be a priority for us,” said Chief Justice Durrant. “We continue to implement measures to accomplish the work of the judiciary without increasing the risk of COVID transmission.”
Courts will no longer require masks, but continue to encourage masks for those who are not vaccinated. The courts will also continue to encourage physical distancing, wipe down high touch surfaces, and monitor employees and individuals entering the courthouses for COVID symptoms.
Trials are expected to resume later this month. Local judges have said incarcerated defendants will be given priority and retired judges are also being called upon to handle the backlog of cases.