Second Judicial District suspends jury trials because of COVID-19 hospitalization rate

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Jury trials in the Second Circuit Judicial District, which includes the counties of Lincoln and Minnehaha, have been suspended because of increased coronavirus hospitalization rates, according to a notice sent by the district’s Presiding Judge Robin J. Houwman.

Trials scheduled through Oct. 14 should be reset.

Houwman’s notice to second circuit bar members said: “The hospitalization rates have again risen to levels that lead us to believe, in consultation with the Department of Health, that it is necessary to take this action.  We will continue to monitor the numbers and to consult with health officials in determining when it is safe to resume jury trials.  When trials resumed in mid-June the hospitalization rates had been trending downward for at least 30 days.  During the time trials were proceeding, the hospitalization numbers were consistently under 45.  We will use that information as a guide along with recommendations made by the CDC and our local health officials.”

The hospitalization number as of Sept. 22 for the Sioux Falls metro area was 70 and it was 57 on Sept. 21 and Sept. 20. Numbers have been increasing since there were 38 hospitalizations on Sept. 9, according to the city of Sioux Falls COVID-19 dashboard.

The second circuit also set criteria for resuming jury trials. The criteria is as follows: No confirmed COVID-19 cases of Courthouse staff in the last 10 days; Lifting of all Executive and DOH Orders related to the particular county; Continued low COVID-19 hospitalization rates in the county over the last 14 days; Consultation with local health officials.

The priority trials will be for in custody defendants when jury trials start again.

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