On Thursday, July 2, 2020, Chief Judge of the Third Judicial District Jennifer Dorow signed an order that will allow jury trials to resume in Waukesha County, effective Tuesday, July 7. The Waukesha County Circuit Courts operating plan outlines how jury trials shall be safely conducted during the 2020 public health emergency and COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Waukesha County Judiciary has worked diligently with our justice partners to balance access to justice and the right to a jury trial with the health and safety of all involved.” said Judge Jennifer Dorow, Presiding Judge in Waukesha County and Chief Judge of the Third Judicial District. “We have prioritized the order that cases will be tried based on a number of factors, including the right to a speedy trial, the case type and input from victims. The order is the culmination of an in-depth collaborative effort of stakeholders with the goal of resuming jury trials in a safe and efficient manner during the pandemic.”
In order to maximize the use of designated jury trial courtrooms and accommodate social distancing, the Courts will schedule the start of jury trials on multiple days per week and stagger report time for jurors.
Waukesha County Judiciary’s operational plan incorporates many recommendations made by the Chief Justice’s Wisconsin Courts COVID-19 Task Force. It requires everyone in courtrooms, and court-related confined spaces, to wear face coverings, except as authorized on the record by the judge; outlines practices for appropriate sanitation/hygiene; and specifies that notices regarding face coverings and availability of hand sanitizer and disinfectants in court-related areas will be appropriately posted and noticed. Additionally, Plexiglas has been outfitted in the courtrooms identified for jury trials where six foot social distancing cannot be maintained. The order outlining the operational plan is available here.