Florida Court Conducts Jury Selection Over Zoom

Florida Court Conducts Jury Selection Over Zoom

Florida Court Conducts Jury Selection Over Zoom

With the pandemic continuing to rage in the late summer of 2020, courts continue to adapt all over the United States. Florida’s courts have been operating under emergency guidelines since a March 13, 2020, order suspended jury trials and implemented other actions to restrict potential virus spreading activities in Florida state courts. Some jury trials have resumed in parts of Florida using remote teleconferencing technology for all or part of the proceedings.

As a way to assist in planning how to safely resume jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County, Florida, recently conducted a jury trial in a homeowner’s property damage insurance dispute, in which voir dire (the selection of the jury) was conducted over Zoom while being live-streamed to YouTube.

The case, People’s Trust Insurance Company vs. Yusem Corchero, et al., No. 2019-CA-18363, took place in the Miami-Dade judicial circuit, one of five in Florida selected to test the use of remote videoconferencing technology as a pilot program. The trial proceedings were live-streamed to YouTube as well.

The jury was present in the courtroom to hear counsel and witnesses during the trial. Jurors were seated in the jury box and the well of the courtroom, with accommodation for proper social distancing. Everyone in the courtroom wore either masks or face shields, while some wore both. Sidebars were held in the judge’s chambers to respect concerns about adequate social distancing.

Anyone may view the selection of the jury and trial proceedings on YouTube. Although some technical difficulties were experienced during the first 20 minutes of jury selection on Thursday, July 9, 2020, the trial proceeded without incident for the remainder. The proceedings provide an example of how court proceedings will likely be held during the coronavirus quarantine, and even thereafter.

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