After 1-year suspension during pandemic, misdemeanor jury trials resume next month

Seats next to desks
View of the jury box in one of the courtrooms in the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau. (Matt Miller/KTOO)

Misdemeanor jury trials will resume in Alaska’s state courts starting April 19. That’s after being suspended for more than a year due to the pandemic.

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Joel Bolger issued an order on March 1 allowing those trials to resume.

The presiding judge in each judicial district can suspend misdemeanor trials based on public health considerations, such as if there are high COVID-19 case counts and high-risk levels in the area.

Bolger wrote virus case counts have continued a moderate decline since February, and many more Alaskans have received vaccinations. He also noted judges and court staff have developed procedures designed to reduce the risk of exposure for grand jury proceedings and other hearings.

Last month, Bolger issued an order allowing a limited number of criminal jury trials to resume March 17 after the district’s presiding judge hears a request from both sides in a case. The general suspension of felony trials has been extended until June 1.

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Matt Miller is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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