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How the pandemic is impacting our courts and trials

Posted at 8:22 AM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-01 11:22:38-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — This week a high-profile murder trial was put on pause after a juror tested positive for COVID-19. Kern County Superior Court spokesperson Kristin Davis joined 23ABC this morning to explain how the courthouse has prepared for this unfortunate new reality.

The pandemic impacting just about everything, including the courtroom.

On Monday the judge in the Beant Dhillon trial told jurors they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and sent them home. The trial is set to pick back up on Dec. 10.

The judge also said he doesn't think courtroom conditions contributed to the juror testing positive and added that mask-wearing and distancing measures are in effect.

Davis said these differences have been in place since May 4.

She said changes that were made, along with masks and distancing, were the addition of more reporting times. Now the courthouse assembly room only holds 50 jurors at a time.

Judges also no longer call a large number of jurors into courtrooms at one time.

The courthouse has also added audio streaming on its website for those interested in listening to a case but unable or do not wish to be in the courtroom.

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