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SCTS News

Re-starting High Court jury trials

Jun 15, 2020

The first jury citations for potential jurors to be issued since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown have today been sent out in preparation for High Court trials to restart in Edinburgh and Glasgow in July.

Safety for all participants is the key component of the planning and preparation for jury trials to recommence.  The citations being issued include an information pamphlet about the measures put in place by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) to ensure the safety of all parties: accused, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, staff and judiciary called Jury trials - your safety is our priority.

Lady Dorrian, The Lord Justice Clerk said, “The Courts have been working extremely hard to deliver justice in the current Coronavirus circumstances.  I am satisfied that this work, along with the work undertaken by the Re-starting Jury Trials working group in collaboration with the SCTS and our justice partners, will enable jury trials to take place in a way that ensures the safety and confidence of jurors and all parties, and builds trust in our ability to operate within the strict guidelines set out by Public Health Scotland.”


Notes

Leaflet: Jury trials - your safety is our priority   

On 17 March 2020 the Lord President announced that no new criminal jury trials would commence or juries would be empanelled until further notice, in accordance with Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing and travel.

On 12 May the Lord Justice General established a short-term working group, led by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, to consider the practicalities of recommencing trials by jury as and when public health guidelines permit such a move. 

The Working Group agreed that trials will initially take place in Glasgow High Court and Edinburgh High Court using a three-court solution where the jury will use the public gallery in the courtroom, and a two court approach where the jury view proceedings remotely from a separate courtroom.

Extensive risk assessments have been ongoing across the SCTS estate to allow buildings to re-open across the country since 1 June.  Trials will be conducted with 15 jurors under the same legal standards and procedures as before the Covid-19 emergency.  The process of assembling and balloting jurors and the trial procedure will be carried out with strict physical distancing guidelines and highest hygiene standards adhered to, including access for the jurors and the media, in a way that will ensure effective participation of all participants.

The SCTS takes very seriously its duty to protect the safety of all staff and court users, and asks for everyone’s cooperation to make this a reality.

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