The new San Diego County Superior Court in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego Superior Court announced Wednesday that jury trials will resume early next month as the court system works to reduce its growing backlog of criminal cases put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first trial of 2021 is targeted to begin Feb. 8 at the downtown San Diego courthouse.

In keeping with public health precautions, small groups of prospective jurors will be instructed to report in person at the courthouse, while others will be on telephone stand-by and need to call in for further instructions.

Safety precautions implemented at the courthouse for those who are ordered to report in person include temperature screenings at the door, increased cleaning, social distancing and facial covering requirements, according to a Superior Court statement.

Those who receive jury duty summons for dates in February and beyond are advised to follow the instructions on their summons.

Trials in San Diego County briefly resumed in October, but only a few cases were heard before jury trials were suspended again in December.

“Jury trials have been one of the most heavily affected areas of the court’s services throughout the pandemic and it is necessary for us to safely press on with resuming jury trials to ensure timely access to justice,” said Presiding Judge Lorna Alksne. “We’ve placed COVID-19 safety and prevention measures in every courthouse and the jurors who did serve in-person on trials in the fall reported that they felt safe and comfortable during their service.”

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