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Keeping Jurors Six Feet Apart Is a Challenge for Courts to Reopen

  • The traditional jury box is too small for social distancing
  • France and the U.K. are debating having more judge-only trials
Courtroom in Los Angeles, California, in April.

Courtroom in Los Angeles, California, in April.

Photographer: MYUNG J. CHUN/AFP

As the world’s courthouses prepare to reopen, many are installing Plexiglass “sneeze barriers” and instituting face-mask requirements for litigants and court staff. But one especially vexing problem remains: how to bring back the jury and where to put them.

Consider the plight of Minnesota’s Hennepin County, where courts are planning to start with pilot jury trials June 1. The county, which includes Minneapolis, is considering moving some jurors out of the traditional 14-seat box into the gallery, but there’s concern that might put them too close to the lawyers in the case.