Wyoming Supreme Court relaxes some restrictions, extends COVID-19 emergency orders to August 3, 2020
Wyoming courts plan judicious approach to resuming in-person proceedings, carefully preparing for jury trials.
May 14, 2020
The Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court, Michael K. Davis, today entered an Order extending to August 3, 2020, the Court’s temporary plan to address Covid-19 health risks. The Order allows for some loosening of the restrictions on in-person court proceedings, in accordance with guidelines approved by the Wyoming Department of Health. The guidelines set forth specific measures to keep court staff and the public safe. Each judicial district will rely on these guidelines to adopt an Operating Plan that adapts to local circumstances such as available courthouse space and local rate of infection.
“The primary objective of court reopening is to maintain the safety of court personnel and the public, while achieving timely judicial work to the extent possible,” said Davis. “Thanks to video technology and court personnel who have adapted quickly and worked tirelessly, courts have been able to keep up on much of the work of the judiciary despite the Covid-19 shutdown. However, in-person proceedings have been extremely limited due to social distancing restrictions.” The Court’s May 15 Order, the Court reopening guidelines, and the local court operating plans will permit in-person proceedings to resume as soon as safely possible.
Jury trials present a more complex challenge. Davis stressed that “citizen participation in jury trials is a critical component of our democracy.” However, he recognized that jury duty differs from other types of gatherings. “As the State of Wyoming begins to ease restrictions imposed to limit the spread of Covid-19, individuals may choose whether to go to a restaurant or engage in other activities that increase their exposure. They do not have a choice whether to appear when summoned for jury duty or subpoenaed to testify at trial; therefore the Wyoming judiciary takes very seriously its responsibility to provide safe courthouses.” The Court’s May 15 Order therefore calls for a continued moratorium on jury trials until August 3, 2020. Meanwhile, the Wyoming Supreme Court is working closely with District and Circuit Courts to develop plans that will allow for jury trials while minimizing the health risks to jurors, parties, and court staff.
The full order extending, as well as the original orders, can be found on the Wyoming Supreme Court’s website: https://www.courts.state.wy.us/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/