Making room for the jury: How a California court goes back to work

With every second seat blocked off, only nine of the 12 jurors were able to fit in the small jury box in Santa Clara Superior Court's department 53 courtroom when a suspended jury trial resumed on May 18.

The remaining three, and three alternates, sat on the main floor, next to tables holding antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer and plastic 'sneeze guard' screens.

The judge and attorneys' desks are enclosed by transparent plastic barriers, and witnesses provide their testimonies from behind a screened podium, which is cleaned and sanitized after every use.

The defendant has his own screened desk and communicates with his lawyers via a secure chat function on a laptop.

Everyone in the courtroom is required to wear a protective face covering, although witnesses may remove their masks while they are speaking.

"They all have plexiglass around them, which adds another measure of safety, even though both the attorneys, all the attorneys and the defendant are always wearing masks," said Santa Clara Deputy Sheriff Gary Zimmerman.

Video Transcript

- We've been trying to make sure that the jurors have enough room between them to make them feel safe. We've provided a lot of hand sanitizer and wipes, and we've strategically put the people so that they're at least six feet apart.

Normally we would have six people in that row right there, but there are only three. So there's jurors one through three. And then the next row has three jurors, and this row has three jurors, and then 10, 11, and 12-- jurors 10, 11, and 12 are in these seats along with the three alternates. And we've put barriers up, as you can see. Also lots of tissue and hand sanitizer and wipes.

Over here are the counsel tables. They all have plexiglass around them, which adds another measure of safety, even though both the attorneys-- all the attorneys and the defendant are always wearing masks.

We even have plexiglass by the podium. So the attorneys will come up and talk to the witnesses at the podium, and that's surrounded by plexiglass as well. And they'll be wearing masks even when they ask questions.