CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Presiding Judge Charles J. Kubicki said jury trials cannot resume at this time in Hamilton County due to the coronavirus.
“In order for a fair trial to take place, we have to ensure the courtroom is safe,” he said.
Jury trials were scheduled to resume on July 13.
Other hearings will take place with safety precautions in place. Everyone is required to wear a mask and to maintain social distancing. Grand juries will also continue as scheduled.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he agrees with the suspension of jury trials.
“Unfortunately, with the spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Hamilton County, it is not reasonable or safe to ask citizens to come down to sit on juries. We also must be concerned with the health of all of the attorneys involved in these cases, courtroom personnel, witnesses and defendants. While no one wants to postpone cases any longer than necessary, this is a matter of public health,” he said.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, there are 7,179 COVID-19 cases and 208 deaths.
Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said the age group with the highest increase in COVID cases is 20 to 39.
A mask mandate for Hamilton County went into effect Wednesday, July 8.
The ODH issued the order after Gov. Mike DeWine said he spoke with local health commissioners and found that coronavirus was spreading in large family gatherings (birthday parties, graduations, funerals, etc.), in the workplace, at tourist destinations, and in churches.
DeWine says this mandate applies for the following areas in Hamilton County:
- Any indoor location that is not a residence.
- Outdoor areas where 6′ of social distancing cannot be maintained from people who are not family members of their households.
- Transportation and ridesharing services.
A misdemeanor charge will be the penalty for violating the mask requirement in the designated areas, according to the governor. It will be enforced by local health departments.
The governor added this doesn’t apply to people who have been advised to not wear a mask by a physician, if wearing a mask is prohibited by federal regulation, if communicating with the hearing impaired, when along in your office or personal workspace, and other similar measures.
The mandate will remain active for each county until it is no longer in the red or purple risk category, DeWine explained.
County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said no one wants to shut down businesses.
“It can be devastating. That is why we are pleading with people to wear masks. That’s the strategy we can employ to keep businesses open,” she said.