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Crime & Courts

Jury trials postponed in Anchorage, Kenai and Palmer

New jury trials in Anchorage, Palmer and Kenai have been suspended for at least a week in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Third Judicial District Presiding Judge William Morse ordered the suspension Friday.

According to the announcement, there were six new jury scheduled to begin next week, which would have required more than 200 jurors to assemble.

Jury trials will continue in Alaska’s First and Fourth districts. None were scheduled in the Second District.

Also, on March 19, the Alaska Supreme Court will consider an emergency order relaxing court rules to minimize the virus’s spread.

Grand jury proceedings in Anchorage and elsewhere will continue, the announcement said, although they “may be moved to larger spaces to accommodate social distancing needs.”

The court system will continue other work, such as domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault protective orders, criminal arraignments, issuing search warrants and emergency mental health proceedings.

“The Alaska Court System has been actively preparing a response to the virus that is comprehensive yet flexible to adjust as matters change,” the announcement said.

Also Friday, the U.S. District Court of Alaska announced restrictions on visitors to the courthouse.

Those restrictions include anyone who has traveled to any CDC Level 2 or Level 3 risk countries, anyone who has had close contact with someone who has traveled to those countries, anyone who has been asked to self-quarantine, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and anyone with symptoms of the disease including fever, severe cough or shortness of breath.

The court also cancelled any student tours of the court.

Anyone who is unable to make a required court appearance is being asked to contact their attorney or probation officer. Attorneys are being asked to contact the judge’s courtroom deputy for guidance.

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