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Jan. 19: COVID causes jury trial pause in Allen Superior Court's criminal division

FILE PHOTO: Rebecca Green
In an effort to stave off COVID-19 outbreaks, the Allen County Superior Court has been encouraging social distancing, but is now going to pause trials for a few weeks.

The Allen County Superior Court is suspending jury trials until Feb. 14 due to the recent rise of COVID-19.

Court officials cited a “dramatic” rise in COVID cases among litigants, jurors, prosecutors and court staff, making it difficult to put together a trial or to keep it moving forward once it has begun.

Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull said in a statement that the courts have not closed one day due to COVID-19, but that the current pause is called for until the COVID surge subsides.

The pause will begin on Monday, though scheduled guilty pleas, sentencings, bench trials and regular hearings will continue.

Anyone with a jury summons for Allen Superior Court for dates between Jan. 25 and Feb. 10 can disregard the notice. The decision is expected to impact between five to 10 jury trials, according to the release.

All of Indiana is back in the worst category for community spread of COVID-19
Screenshot of the Indiana Department of Health
All of Indiana is back in the worst category for community spread of COVID-19

The entire state of Indiana is now in the “red” for community spread of COVID-19, with more than 16,000 new official cases reported Wednesday. That number does not include any positive at-home rapid tests that are not reported to health officials.

Approximately eight deaths were reported in northeast Indiana on Wednesday due to the virus.

The highly-contagious Omicron variant now accounts for about 73 percent of the cases in Indiana.

Rebecca manages the news at WBOI. She joined the staff in December 2017, and brought with her nearly two decades of experience in print journalism, including 15 years as an award-winning reporter for the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne.