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Jury trials in Lucas County are suspended through end of 2020; defendants to appear via Zoom only, barring exceptional circumstances

Administrative Judge Dean Mandros said the changes will go into effect starting Nov. 16. Only rare, exceptional circumstances would justify calling in jurors.
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, Ohio — Administrative Judge Dean Mandros sent out an order on Thursday to postpone all jury trials in Lucas County until the end of the year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Jurors will not be summoned for purposes of trial without the prior approval of the administrative judge which will not be authorized unless exceptional circumstances exist," the policy reads. 

The policy outlined by Mandros, which was urged by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor, goes into effect Nov. 16. 

There were four potential trials that would be affected during this time frame, Mandros said, but there are rare, exceptional circumstances that would justify calling in jurors, such as if the court were up against the constitutional speedy trial deadline or if a juror was moving out of state and would not be coming back into the jurisdiction.  

Additionally, no defendants will be allowed to be brought into courtrooms without prior approval of the administrative judge. 

When defendants are to appear in court - which should only happen "in the rarest of circumstances (such as a plea or sentencing in a homicide case)" -they will interact with the court via Zoom and will remain on the first floor of the courthouse. 

The policies go into effect starting Monday and are to remain in place until the end of the year. 

"I ask that you follow the guidance of Chief Justice O'Connor and Governor (Mike) DeWine for the next 46 days. I am confident that next year will return us to a more normal functioning courthouse," Mandros wrote.