FONT

MORE STORIES


Rather than sitting together in a jury box, the jurors were spread out around the courtroom, occupying the space usually reserved for the public.

Earlier this month, more than 120 potential jurors showed up at the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland. Spaced six feet apart, court staff offered face masks.

They were summoned for the county's first trial in more than a month amid the coronavirus pandemic. That resumption of trials has made Oregon stand out nationally, and raised questions from some in the legal and health communities about the public's safety, even as parts of the state consider easing restrictions on gatherings and businesses.

Inside a courtroom, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Ryan greeted a small group of the potential jurors.

"I want to assure you — as I know you were told this morning — most of you have masks," he said. "If your mask rips or tears, or you don't have one and decide you want one, just let either or our court clerks know and we have masks for you."

Rather than sitting together in a jury box, the jurors were spread out around the courtroom, occupying the space usually reserved for the public.

"I have my mask up here; I wear it sometimes," Ryan said. "But the distances have been measured. And the distance between me and the clerks is more than six feet. And from me to the witness is more than six feet and amongst all of you is more than six feet."

Across the state, courts have been reduced to only their essential functions, under an order by Oregon's Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters.

In March, there were 81 jury trials in Oregon, according to the Oregon Judicial Department. In April, just one in the entire state. The number of trials is once again starting to grow.

This OPB story is shared as part of a local media project to increase COVID-19 news coverage.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.


You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.


RELATED STORIES

- CCC launches online exhibit taking on the pandemic

- Lavender festival canceled at CCC

- City Club lays off staff, scales back programs

- Goodbye empty roads: Week-to-week Portland traffic rises again

- Sherwood's Robin Hood Festival canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

- Canby Farmers Market welcomes 2020 season

- Few cases of COVID-19 reported in the Estacada area

- Checking in: A conversation with Pat Wolfram

- Bonus Index: Unemployment by the numbers

- City to begin process for crafting budget