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Idaho Supreme Court to return to online court hearings and suspend new jury trials amid COVID surge

Idaho Supreme Court - 2021
Otto Kitsinger
Idaho Supreme Court building in Boise on March 20, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Amid the state’s declaration of crisis standards of care and surging COVID-19 cases, the Idaho Supreme Court will return to online court hearings and no new jury trials, according to a press release.

The new order will take effect on Monday, Sept. 27. Most court hearings will take place online, but exceptions will include trials involving the termination of parental rights and all felony sentencing hearings, according to the release. The court will provide a publicly accessible livestream for hearings that would normally be open to the public.

No new jury trials will begin between Sept. 27 and Dec. 6, the release stated, including new grand jury panels. Existing trials or grand jury proceedings may continue, but jury trials in most Idaho counties have already been temporarily suspended because of the surge in COVID cases.

“This dramatic increase has overburdened Idaho’s health care system,” the order says. “… In light of these concerning developments, we have concluded that further modification of our emergency orders is now warranted.”

The order also states anyone in public areas of a building used solely for court business must wear a mask covering the nose and mouth and maintain six feet of distance from people who do not live in their household, according to the release. In mixed-use buildings with non-court operations, anyone entering a courtroom, clerk’s office, counter area or other spaces used for court business must adhere to the same rules.

Local administrative judges can take further steps for public health and safety as they deem necessary.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.