Minnesota Resumes Federal Trials, but Are They Safe?

By on September 24, 2020

The US District Court for the District of Minnesota resumed federal trials this week, with a civil bench trial and a criminal jury trial. Mask and sterilization procedures were followed. The lawyers had headphones that they could use to speak with each other and to replace sidebars. The jury trial is a short, single-defendant trial, and the case is set to go to the jury today. The resumption of jury trials in the district is not without controversy, however. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

Not all experts agree it is safe enough, noting that barriers and masks can block larger droplets produced by coughing but are not as useful in stopping the spread of smaller particles that circulate from breathing and talking.


Dr. Lisa M. Brosseau, an industrial hygienist at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said there still should be no jury trials.


“People should not be spending a lot of time in a room, even with barriers, even with face coverings, even if they are separated by six feet,” she said. “The danger is the concentration of particles within the room will increase over time.”

Civil jury trials have not resumed in Minnesota, in either federal or state court.

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McDermott’s litigation team monitors US courts as they reopen amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.