What is the status of jury trials in Vermont?
Jury trials have restarted in Vermont after having been suspended in March 2020 because of COVD-19.
For the last several months Judiciary staff have been working with its partners to assess air circulation systems in all court buildings to ensure that they meet safety standards and to identify needed improvements.
In addition, each court has to submit a jury restart plan to the Court Administrator’s Office that must be approved by the Chief Superior Judge and the Chief of Trial Court Operations. These plans address issues related to juror summonsing, juror orientation, courthouse screening, courtroom configuration, movement in courtrooms, cleaning protocols, the enforcement of social distancing and mask wearing requirements, and related matters.
The Supreme court also has a committee that is looking into what would be required to hold certain trials remotely.
What steps are the Vermont Courts taking to create a safe environment in the courthouse?
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Judiciary has employed a variety of COVID-19 related precautions including, but not limited to, the following:
- Court staff screen all people who enter the courthouse for COVID-19 by asking about symptoms.
- A mask or face covering is required to be worn by all people in the courthouse at all times.
- There is a limit to how many people can enter a courthouse or a courtroom.
- All courthouses have undergone or are undergoing an inspection of heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems to ensure they provide adequate air circulation.
- Some courts have erected plexiglass barriers to inhibit air flow among individuals.
- Hand sanitizer is available throughout the courthouse and the courtrooms.
- Courtrooms are cleaned throughout the day, as dictated by public health guidelines.
As a juror, will I be able to be socially distant from others during jury deliberation?
Yes. In fact, in some cases, the jury will take over the entire courtroom and court staff and others will move to other spaces.
What phone number or email address should I use if I have specific questions related to jury service during the COVID-19 pandemic?
If you are a prospective juror, you can find information for contacting the appropriate court in the materials you receive as part of the summons process. You may also contact Jury Administration by phone at 802-865-5879 or email at email@example.com for general information.
Will I be able to let the court know the reasons why I feel I cannot participate in jury service?
Yes. Please submit your request in one of the following ways:
- On the Jury online questionnaire, select “Request Schedule Change” on the dashboard. See the back of your jury summons for directions.
- Email Jury Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax Jury Administration at (802) 651-1959
- Write your request on page 4 of the jury questionnaire in the additional comments section or in a separate letter which you can attach to the paper questionnaire. A written request can be sent to the following address:
Jury Administration Office
Vermont Superior court
32 Cherry Street, Suite 350
Burlington, VT 05401-7305
Will I be required to wear a mask?
Yes, anyone entering a courthouse—including court personnel, attorneys, parties, jurors, and members of the public—must wear a mask or face covering at all times in public areas, including in the courtroom.
A person may wear their own face covering if it covers their mouth and nose and it is worn in the manner for which it was made.
The court will provide a mask to any person who is permitted to be in the courthouse, including a juror.
What can I do to help maintain a safe environment during jury service?
If you report to the courthouse for jury service, please adhere to the following guidelines to keep everyone safe:
- Keep your personal items separated from other jurors’ items.
- Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer often.
- Maintain an appropriate social distance of six feet from others when no barrier exists between you.
- Wear a mask or face covering in all public areas of the courthouse.
What do I do if I exhibit symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or find out I have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 during jury service?
Please do not report to the courthouse. During juror orientation you will learn whom you should call to report this information and to obtain additional guidance from the court as to how to proceed regarding your jury service.
For more information about jury service in Vermont generally, please visit the Jurors page.
For more information about the Judiciary’s response to COVID-19, please visit the COVID-19 and Court Operations page.