No jury duty in Union County before June 15

Union County MS Courthouse near sunset
May 19th, 2020     Government & Politics

No one in Union County has to worry about getting a jury summons for circuit court until the middle of June, at least.

The Supreme Court issued an order saying that no summonses should be sent returnable to June 15 or earlier in any county with more than two COVID-19 deaths reported.

Union County had four this past week.

Counties with two or fewer deaths could resume calling juries as early as this week.

The order does not call a halt to court activities, however.

Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford has had her office open each day with limited access to the courthouse offices.

The court’s order does not prohibit judges, clerks and attorneys from moving ahead on case procedures, just involving juries.

Each judge presiding over drug-intervention courts was authorized to modify the scheduling of drug testing and home-supervision visits through June 12.

Still, Stanford said this past week that only two lawsuits had been filed in the month, far fewer than normal.

When jury summonses are eventually sent they will include a separate document to alert prospective jurors to recognized grounds for juror excuse or exemption. That will include illness or personal hardship excuses related to COVID-19.

While the high court did not order it, justices urged limits on person-to-person contact, when appropriate, by using technological alternatives.

Some types of cases in which in-person proceedings may be necessary include emergency custody or protective orders relating to abuse, mental health or elderly or vulnerable persons. Felony plea hearings or requests for arrest or search warrants may be held, along with a few other matters at the discretion of the respective judges.

The court noted that, “Nothing in this Order prohibits a court from conducting in-person, non-jury proceedings, so long at that court utilizes appropriate caution and prudence, and remains compliant with prior Orders of this Court and the guidelines issued by the MSDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Since this is described as “a rapidly changing situation,” the court may modify or replace its order.

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