Courts in Cache County have been moved to a “yellow” phase, opening the door for in-person hearings and jury trials.
An administrative order for court operations from Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant authorized all courts to operate in a yellow phase provided their “risk response plan has been approved by the Management Committee.”
The order was issued on Friday and went into effect on Monday.
“As courts move from the Red to Yellow or Green phases of operations, the districts and individual court locations will have flexibility in determining how best to resume in-court proceedings,” the order states. “All districts and individual court locations must give priority to resuming (in-court) proceedings that are not capable of being held remotely, such as jury trials.”
In addition to precedence given to jury trials and other hearings, the order states in-custody defendants should also be given priority.
The order states courts operating in a yellow phase will still deny courthouse entry to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have not fully recovered or still have symptoms, as well as those not fully vaccinated who have had “sustained close contact with such individuals.”
The courts will still be able to conduct certain proceedings remotely, such as bench trials and oral arguments.
The order also modified rules for jurors. According to the Judicial Council Code of Judicial Administration, the term of availability for selected jurors differs by county — in Cache County, a person qualified for jury duty is eligible for six months.
According to the order, the calculation of time for jurors has been suspended in yellow and red phase courts, but that suspension will be lifted when trials resume in that particular court. The order also allows for courts operating in a red phase to provide meals to jurors “in the protected environment of the courthouse during the course of a trial.”
In September, Cache County was moved to a red phase after nearly a month in yellow. As a result all in-person hearings — including jury trials — without exigent circumstances were suspended, creating a backlog of cases in courts across the state.