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

The first civil jury trial following the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be held early next year, the San Diego Superior Court announced Thursday.

While criminal trials were given priority to resume amid the pandemic due to constitutional requirements, San Diego County’s courts are gearing up to bring jurors into the courthouses for civil trials as well, and targeting January for its first civil jury trial since the start of the pandemic.

The first criminal jury trial since the pandemic began was held last month in a downtown San Diego courtroom outfitted with protective measures such as Plexiglas panels in the jury box and elsewhere throughout the courtroom.

As criminal trials continue and the number of jury summons mailed out increases, the court said it will begin making some jurors available for civil cases.

Parties will have the option to agree to a smaller number of jurors trying their case due to an expectation that civil jury pools will be limited.

The court has also been holding some in-person bench trials, which are solely decided by a judge. Three in-person civil bench trials were held last month and the option to hold remote bench trials remains available, according to the San Diego Superior Court.

Those summoned for jury duty were advised to view the court’s materials regarding its COVID-19 precautions, which can be seen in this YouTube video.

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