CORONAVIRUS

Iowa jury trials postponed until February due to coronavirus surge

DES MOINES — All jury trials across Iowa will be postponed until Feb. 1, due to the coronavirus surge, according to Tuesday’s order by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The court noted the current high rate of positive COVID-19 tests in the state in making this determination to postpone jury trials and grand jury proceedings until next year.

All non-jury trials and other face-to-face proceedings will continue.

Jury trials just started again in mid-September after being on hold since March.

The number of positive coronavirus cases reported Tuesday was 4,425 across the state, bringing the total to 161,267, according to numbers recorded by the Iowa Department of Public Health and analyzed by The Gazette.

There were 27 new confirmed deaths on Tuesday, for an overall total of 1,873 deaths in the state since March.

Iowa also exceeded 1,000 hospitalizations for the first time Monday.

The positivity rate was 49.85 percent of 8,876 test results on Tuesday. Of those 4,425 were positive and 4,451 were negative and inconclusive.

Linn County had a positivity rate of 44.11 percent, with 423 new positive cases for a total of 9,562.

Johnson County had positivity rate of 36.59 percent, with 217 new cases for a total of 7,399.

Chief Justice Susan Christensen said in the order all trials will be postponed unless they already have started before Nov. 16 — meaning if a jury already has been sworn in. There should be no jury trial from Nov. 16 through Jan. 31, 2021.

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In rescheduling trials, the district should use the case priorities in the supervisory order issued July 9.

That order has emergency proceedings as the highest priority, which include substance abuse commitments, mental health commitments and protective orders for domestic abuse. The next priority is given to criminal cases, followed by civil cases.

All deadlines will be extended regarding trials, and other court rules will be temporarily suspended in accordance with this order.

Christensen, in the order, said other deadlines from previous orders will be evaluated and the court will continue monitoring the situation and update this order if necessary.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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