District court decision allows delay of some jury trials as omicron spreads

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A district court decision to postpone big jury trials for the next 30 days was announced Wednesday, stacking more delays on court calendars that were already trying to dig out of a backlog that has built up during the pandemic.

The order issued by Eighth District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell and approved by Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Parraguire allows the delay.

The delay takes effect Jan. 12 and will continue for 30 days, and perhaps longer if the court decides to extend it.

The order says:

“With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Clark County, it has become challenging for the court to complete lengthy jury trials. The disruption of trials raises concerns about potential mistrials, increased cost to litigants, and unnecessary inconvenience to jurors. At the same time, the Court is aware of the importance of continuing to conduct trials when possible. Therefore, jury trials that are expected to take longer than a calendar week are paused for 30 days from the date this order is filed. Jury trials that can be completed within a calendar week should move forward under the COVID-19 Jury Trial Plan and AO 21-09.”

The delay applies only to Clark County District Court. The court continues to adjust operations as the omicron variant sends case numbers higher. Many hearings during the pandemic have proceeded remotely over videoconference.

“Additionally, due to staffing shortages and to reduce the potential spread of infection, appearances by alternative means are required of all lawyers and litigants, in all case types with the exception of bench and jury trials, in-custody defendants appearing in Lower Level Arraignment Courts. For trials, District Court Judges should, to the extent possible, accommodate requests to appear by alternative means. For proceedings other thatn trials, no in-person appearance shall be made unless the assigned District Court Judge or Hearing Master determines that there is an extraordinary circumstance requiring a personal appearance.”

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