Trials at the Allen County Courthouse resume July 1 with several COVID-19 precautions in place.
Summonses to prospective jurors were sent out in mid-June. The courts have bought 100,000 masks, and all jurors will receive one, said John McGauley, Allen Superior Court administrator.
Previously, dozens of prospective jurors gathered in chairs side by side on the first floor of the courthouse while they waited to see which trial they’d be assigned to.
It “depends on how many jury trials are going on or whether they’re high profile when it comes to how many prospective jurors might be in the building,” McGauley wrote in an email. “But no matter how you cut it, social distancing will be a must. So we’ll be splitting jury pools up across several areas of the Courthouse vs. having them all assemble in one location.”
Once they get into a courtroom, they’ll see caution tape and blue painter’s tape to denote where people can and cannot sit. Jurors won’t all sit together in the jury box. Some jurors will be seated elsewhere in the courtroom.
With limits on courtroom space, the Civil Division is giving criminal trials priority, according to McGauley, while it has been looking at nearby spaces outside the courthouse as possible backups for jury and bench trials.
On March 17, the Indiana Supreme Court ordered the suspension of trials in Allen County and statewide because of the pandemic.
Visitors will also see a lot of cleaning going on in the public spaces at the courthouse, 715 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne.