- Kathryn O'Leary, Esq.
Massachusetts Courts Resume Jury Trials, With Limits.
The Massachusetts court system enters Phase 3 of it's COVID recovery plan on May 1, 2021. It entails resumption of twelve-person jury trials in criminal cases, youthful offender cases, and sexually dangerous person cases. In general phase 3 authorizes the courts to conduct as many jury trials as possible in as many locations as possible, consistent with recommended health and safety practices. To maximize the number of jury trials that can be conducted during Phase 3, certain cases that typically would be tried to juries of twelve will continue to be tried to juries of six (i.e., Superior and Housing Court civil cases), while others may continue to be tried to juries of six with the consent of the appropriate parties (i.e., Superior Court criminal and sexually dangerous person cases and Juvenile Court youthful offender cases). In addition, certain jury trials will be subject to limitations on the number of peremptory challenges. The cases that will be tried during Phase 3, as well as the locations, are subject to the approval of the Chief Justice of the applicable Trial Court Department. Priority will continue to be given to conducting jury trials in cases where a party is in custody.