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Jury trials in Ward County postponed a second time due to COVID-19

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 4:31 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 7:59 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. - Jury Trials at the Ward County Courthouse originally scheduled through Aug. 21 are now being postponed after a court employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Nine courthouse employees have been sent home to self-isolate after the Health Department used contact tracing and notified them they may have been exposed to the virus.

It was just a month ago that North Dakota’s emergency declaration came to an end, allowing jury trials to resume. But in Ward County, the jury stands will go back to being empty, at least for now.

“Everything that was scheduled this week and ewe succumbed through that will have to be rescheduled again,” said tate Prosecutor Roza Larson.

After trying to play catch up with two judges presiding over jury trials a week instead of one, trials that were scheduled over the next three weeks the will now be pushed back for a second time.

“The priority again will be speedy trial demands and then ones that have been in custody and moving forward that way,” said Larson.

Court administrator Carolyn Probst said some of the employees are able to continue working from home and that some court cases will continue with the limited staff available.

“A majority of criminal master calendar we’ll continue to have and any critical hearing types; mental health, juvenile court proceedings and then anything else that we can handle that we can support with staff we’ll continue to use as well,” said Probst.

Jury trials are expected to resume on Aug. 24.

Probst said Jury trials currently scheduled for September and October will go on as normal, and that courthouse staff will continue to find ways to allow for social distancing inside of courtrooms.

Copyright 2020 KFYR. All rights reserved.

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