New Hampshire superior court trials to pause for January

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Dec. 22—CONCORD — All jury trials scheduled for January in New Hampshire's 11 superior courts are being pushed to February because of COVID-19 concerns.

Chief Justice of the Superior Court Tina Nadeau announced the postponements with a statement Wednesday.

A pause in jury trials was already slated for the last week in January as a result of a Criminal Defense Task Force recommendation, she said.

All New Hampshire courts will remain open for the public for all other purposes. Bench trials and other court proceedings will remain in-person unless those involved request a remote hearing.

"In working with various groups including judges, stakeholders, and public health consultants regarding COVID-19 concerns, I believe that it is prudent to postpone jury trials scheduled for January," Nadeau's statement reads.

"We are pausing jury trials because, in part, of the difficulty in managing a juror population who are increasingly having to drop out because of sickness or exposure and the unique challenges these proceedings entail. I believe this temporary pause in jury trials will better allow the courts to safely continue other necessary court operations during the winter surge of COVID-19."

Jury trials are scheduled to resume in February in all counties if the rate of COVID-19 infections decreases substantially, according to Nadeau.

The announcement is reminiscent of another in 2020, at the onset of the pandemic. In person hearings were put on hold from March to July 2020 as an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Officials said more than 1,000 jury trials were backlogged as a result.

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