Jury trials to remain on hold in 5th Judicial District courts | SummitDaily.com

Jury trials to remain on hold in 5th Judicial District courts

EAGLE — Jury trials in the 5th Judicial District’s courts — in Eagle, Clear Creek, Lake and Summit counties — are on pause because of the surge of coronavirus infections in Colorado.

While district courts remain open and operational with COVID-19 safety precautions in place and a preference for hearings done through electronic means, an administrative order issued this week by Chief District Court Judge Mark D. Thompson cancels and continues any district court jury trial scheduled to start before Jan. 19.

Thompson’s order essentially extends a moratorium on new trials in the 5th Judicial District that was put in place for Oct. 29 to Nov. 21.

“The judges of the 5th Judicial District have conferred and are in agreement that a temporary moratorium on the commencement of additional jury trials is necessary and appropriate to safeguard against additional COVID-19 health issues and to reduce potential for the spread of illness among the public, attorneys, litigants, law enforcement and court and probation staff,” Thompson writes in the order.

Jury trials throughout Colorado were suspended by order of the Colorado Supreme Court starting in mid-April because of the coronavirus and did not resume in the 5th Judicial District until early August, according to the order.

District court trials are on hold in many other parts of Colorado, including in Garfield and Pitkin counties in the 9th Judicial District and in Grand, Moffat and Routt counties in the 14th Judicial District.

Joe Kirwan, chief deputy for the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said the latest moratorium on new trials in the district will affect at least five criminal trials scheduled.

Last week, the 5th Judicial District tried a Breckenridge liquor store employee with a misdemeanor for allegedly selling alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. The trial was related to the fatal crash caused by Lindsey Ward on Labor Day weekend in 2019.

In lieu of a jury trial, legal teams on both sides of the case made their arguments to Judge Edward Casias, who will ultimately determine the disposition in the case. A decision in the case is expected by the end of the week.

Summit Daily News reporter Sawyer D’Argonne contributed to this story.

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