Effective February 2021, jury trials are to resume on a phased basis for the Home Circuit Court and some Rural Circuit Courts of the Hilary Term. Jury trials for matters excepting where the death penalty is in issue; will proceed at courts, which can accommodate jurors with adequate space for physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please see table below for parishes where jury trials will proceed.
|HILARY SESSION OF CIRCUIT COURTS||NOTICE TO JURORS AND DATES FOR RESUMPTION OF JURY TRIALS|
|Kingston (Home Circuit Court)||Jurors are not required to attend until February 12, 2021.|
|St. Catherine||Jurors summoned for the period January 7, 2021 to January 22, 2021 and the period January 25, 2021 to February 12, 2021 are not to attend UNTIL FEBRUARY 15, 2021 when jury trials are to resume.|
|Westmoreland, Portland and Trelawny||Jurors summoned for the period February 8, 2021 to March 5, 2021 are to attend for duties.|
|St. James||Jurors summoned for the period January 7, 2021 to February 5, 2021 are not required to attend until March 8, 2021.|
|Hanover, St. Elizabeth and St. Mary
|Jurors summoned for the period March 8, 2021 to March 26, 2021 are to attend for duties.|
In parishes, where no jury trials will occur for the periods indicated above, cases triable without a jury are to proceed. Jurors summoned for courts in parishes where there are no jury trials, are not required to attend and are excused without any risk of penalty.
Conditions for Jury Trials
- No matter with more than two defendants jointly indicted for the offence will be heard
- Trials with three or more defendants are to take place only if the judge is satisfied that trial can proceed without violating the ‘Health Guidelines Governing Access to All the Courts of Jamaica’ having regard to:
- The number of attorneys representing the Crown and the defence;
- The number of witnesses;
- Whether the defendants can be accommodated in the courtroom
- Whether the evidence is to be given orally, remotely and/or by agreed statements of agreed facts
- Any other factor which appears to the judge to be relevant
In order to accommodate jury trials, the Judiciary will be using two courtrooms to hear a single matter and will be transferring matters that would usually be dealt with at the Parish Courts to outstations to facilitate physical distancing.
Jurors can be assured that all COVID-19 guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be followed while they are in the precincts of the courts. Jury trials were suspended last year March when Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19.
No Ceremonial Opening
There will be no ceremonial opening for the Circuit Courts for the Hilary Term, which begins January 7.
Chief Justice the Honourable Mr. Justice Bryan Sykes, OJ, CD, has reiterated the adherence to COVID-19 health protocols by court staff and to ensure members of the public are compliant with the protocols before admitting them into the court building.
For further information, you may contact the CAD at 876-613-8800 or visit our website at www.cad.gov.