The US District Court for the District of Connecticut was poised to hold its first pandemic jury trial later this month. However, yesterday Judge Vanessa Barrett postponed the trial because, according to the Hartford Courant, “the court could not find enough jurors willing to sit in court and hear the evidence.” This was “a setback for the federal district court in Connecticut, where the judges have worked for months with virologists, air circulation experts, information technology consultants and others to configure a courtroom that could keep participants in a jury trial safe.” Jury questionnaires were sent to 150 prospective jurors. Seventy-two did not respond at all—an unusually high percentage. More than 50 were then excused for health reasons. Ultimately, the pool included only 19 prospective jurors, which is not enough to seat a 12-person jury. The defense declined to waive peremptory challenges and also declined a bench trial.
All remaining 2020 federal trials in Connecticut’s courthouses have been delayed. All state court trials in Connecticut are also off calendar.