Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announces the new study.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announces the new study. [Andy Chow | Statehouse News Bureau]

Ohio AG Says Jury Trials can be Suspended Because of Coronavirus Concerns

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The attorney general is advising Ohio’s courts that they can suspend jury trials to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Attorney General Dave Yost’s opinion said courts may suspend jury trials for up to 270 days under state law in a pandemic emergency, because they could pose a health risk to jurors, to court personnel and to defendants.

Yost said he got the request to look into the issue after a question from Medina County Prosecutor Forrest Thompson, who said, “this has the potential of putting over one hundred citizens from all different levels of potential exposure in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time.”

Yost said it was worth looking into because it’s such an unusual situation. But Yost said this must be temporary.

“The right to speedy trial is a fundamental right. It’s guaranteed by the constitution, and nobody should do this quickly or cavalierly,” Yost said. “We need to think carefully about it and any adjustments that are made need to only be to accommodate the epidemic itself.”

Yost said similar actions have been taken in Washington and California, and that the United States District Court of the Southern District of Ohio has already suspended jury trials because of the pandemic.