Crime & Courts

Alaska Supreme Court orders jury trials suspended until March

The Alaska Supreme Court has ordered jury trials suspended until March 2021, the latest in a series of postponements of in-person caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nov. 25 order says statewide case rate levels continue to escalate, and the general public likely won’t have access to a vaccine until next year.

“The court system has devised procedures to allow trials with social distancing and other protective measures, but to start public trials at this time would be unduly dangerous,” wrote retiring Chief Justice Joel Bolger in the order.

Some in-person proceedings are allowed under exceptional circumstances, the order says. Other types of proceedings — including some criminal trials that can be held remotely, as well as Child in Need of Aid cases, domestic relations, probate, civil matters, domestic violence cases, small claims and minor offense cases — will continue, according to the court system.

Grand jury proceedings held in person are also suspended until “at least” Feb. 1, 2021. The order will be reviewed Jan. 29.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.