Iowa Chief Justice: In-Person Trials will Resume in February


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen said Wednesday the coronavirus pandemic forced the court system to enact two shutdowns of jury trials and institute remote hearings, but she is determined to resume in-person trials in February.

Giving the annual Condition of the Judiciary speech to the Iowa Legislature, Christensen said judiciary officials worked to balance the need to keep people safe with a commitment to conduct court business.

“And I am proud to report today that the judicial branch did not succumb to COVID-19,” she said.

In March she suspended jury trials and resumed them in September with mask requirements, social distancing, Plexiglas dividers and public viewing areas outside courtrooms. After a surge in virus cases in October, in-person trials were once again halted in November with plans to resume Feb. 1.

Iowa reported 10 additional deaths on Wednesday, raising the state total to 4,232. The state death count is the 16th highest per capita in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.

An additional 1,845 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported as the state total rose to 299,910. Virus spread is increasing again. The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate climbed 39% since Dec. 29.

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