Atlanta, GA (Oct. 28, 2020) — In a new set of public service announcements (PSAs), Chief Justice Harold D. Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia reminds citizens of their critical role in ensuring justice for all. Entitled “Justice Needs Jurors,” the series of video messages that will begin airing in November emphasizes the need for citizens to serve as jurors while assuring them that complex measures are being put into place to protect their health and safety.
“The right to a trial by jury is fundamental to the American system of justice,” Chief Justice Melton says in one of the PSAs. “When we decided in March to suspend jury trials in Georgia due to the virus, it was a hard call. Delaying that process has made a tough situation even more difficult for those awaiting justice.”
Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings have been suspended in Georgia since March 14, 2020, when the Chief Justice first declared a Statewide Judicial Emergency in response to the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Since then, he has extended the emergency Order every 30 days, as state law permits. The Order signed on Oct. 10, which extended the judicial emergency for the sixth time, immediately lifted the suspension of jury trials in Georgia and allowed them to resume under strict COVID-19 safety guidelines and at the discretion of the Chief Judge of each superior court in consultation with the local District Attorney. The PSAs are meant to support the efforts of local courts and to encourage jurors to respond to local jury summons as part of their civic duty.
“Working with Georgia medical experts, we have established rigorous safety protocols for courthouses, courtrooms, and jury spaces,” Chief Justice Melton explains in the message. “If you are summoned for jury duty, please note, we will do everything we can to keep you and your loved ones safe as you serve.”
Specific protocols will be followed, such as:
The video messages featuring the Chief Justice were produced by the Judicial Council of Georgia and Administrative Office of the Courts, with support from the State Bar of Georgia, and will be posted on various state and court websites, as well as on social media. Shorter versions will air on traditional media. There is a second series of messages for jurors being produced by the Judicial Council featuring Dr. Mark A. Swancutt, MD, PhD, DTM&H, who has offered his medical expertise and advice as an important member of the Judicial COVID-19 Task Force.
ABOUT THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL
The 28-member Judicial Council of Georgia meets several times a year to act on policy and administrative matters affecting the judiciary. Judges from Georgia’s appellate and trial courts at all levels are represented on the Judicial Council, as well as a representative from the State Bar of Georgia. For more information about the Judicial Council, visit https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/