In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Superior Court for Mecklenburg County attempted to hold its first pandemic jury trial, starting November 16. Things did not go well.
First, during the evidence phase, a jury was excused after reporting a possible exposure. He later tested negative. Then, jury deliberations were suspended for a week when a juror began experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms. That juror too tested negative. Then, on Monday, a jury who traveled during Thanksgiving notified the court of being exposed to relatives who were not showing COVID-19 symptoms. The courthouse was trying to arrange testing for that juror.
The result? A mistrial, without a positive test.
Meanwhile, the county reports that more than 700 felony cases are awaiting trial, including 100 homicide cases and another 150 involving rapes, assaults and other violent offenses.
According to the Charlotte Observer, “the statewide surge in new COVID-19 cases is already surpassing some of the disease measures the courthouse pledged to use to gauge whether the jury trials should continue.” But jury selection of the second pandemic jury trial is now underway.