NH courts postpone January jury trials citing growing COVID concerns

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Dec. 22—CONCORD — The New Hampshire court system on Wednesday postponed all jury trials and grand jury proceedings for the month of January, citing the mounting COVID-19 pandemic.

Courthouses will be open for all other business, according to a statement issued by Judge Tina Nadeau, chief justice of the Superior Court system.

"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," she said.

The decision followed consultation with judges, public health consultants and other stakeholders, she said.

Nadeau said jury trials will resume in February in all counties if the rate of COVID-19 infections drops substantially.

A the height of the pandemic a year and a half ago, the courts suspended trials and grand jury proceedings. The suspension, announced in mid-March 2020, was initially for a month but stretched much longer.

Some trials resumed in August. Most counties had resumed trials by February 2021; trials returned to the last court in April 2021.

The postponements can stretch cases out for years. In November, the Union Leader reported about a 2018 Manchester rape case languishing in the system with no certain trial date.

mhayward@unionleader.com

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