CED on the Scene: Courts Reopening

Covid shutdowns are lifting, new guidelines are being issued, and courts are working on reopening while respecting social distancing and other safety measures. In late August, Garry Brock, PE, a biomechanical engineer based out of our Annapolis, MD office, attended a live trial in Pennsylvania.

When Garry arrived at the courthouse, he found many of the new procedures for the courtroom to be well-defined to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance. These procedures included:

  1. A check was completed to ensure each person entering the courthouse had business to be completed in the building – either as a juror or another reason to physically be there.
  2. Mandatory masks inside the building.
  3. Inside the courtroom were the judge, counsel for Plaintiff and Defense, the Plaintiff, Defense representative, jury, and witnesses.
  4. The jury was socially distanced and located in the gallery.
  5. Witnesses were socially distanced and located in the jury box.
  6. When called, witnesses entered the witness stand that had been modified with a plexiglass enclosure.
  7. When inside the plexiglass enclosure, witnesses could remove the mask.
  8. Exhibits could be passed to the jury for review, but the exhibit had to be sanitized after handling by one juror and before being passed to the next juror.
    • Garry, aware of this before trial, prepared larger format boards that could be displayed to the jurors, like on Wheel of Fortune.

Garry’s experience is powerful test case for jury trials in other Pennsylvania areas. Our hope is that other courts are able to adopt similar safety measures to help reopen trials and keep our line of business moving.