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SJC extends jury trial pause in Mass. by two weeks

Joe Raymond with the Lowell Courthouse facilities crew sanitizes railings in the courtroom after a trial in January 2021, when jury trials resumed with a two-month trial period using six-person panels.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Jury trials in Massachusetts state courthouses will remain paused until Valentine’s Day because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the Supreme Judicial Court said Monday.

An order issued by the court extends the previous pause on all jury trials — until Jan. 31 — by two weeks, the court said in a statement Monday. Other than jury trials, all courts will be open for in-person business “with a continued emphasis on conducting matters remotely whenever possible,” the statement said.

“While we are encouraged by the trend in COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth, the additional two week pause on jury trials is necessary to protect the health and safety of all who enter and work in our courthouses,” Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd said in the statement.


The SJC suspended jury trials in 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19 amid the initial surge of the virus in the state. In January 2021, those restrictions were partially lifted and by July, regular proceedings had resumed. Jury trials continued until the end of December, when the SJC ordered a monthlong pause amid the most recent winter surge.

Budd said that if COVID-19 cases continue to drop, no further pause is expected.

“As throughout the pandemic, however, all plans and expectations regarding the resumption of jury trials may be adjusted at any time in the ongoing effort to balance the safety of court users and personnel with the fundamental constitutional right to a trial by jury,” Budd said.

Breanne Kovatch can be reached at breanne.kovatch@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @breannekovatch.