Illinois Supreme Court Issues Framework for Conducting Jury Selection Remotely, Due to Pandemic

In a recent order, the Illinois Supreme Court held that “remote jury selection by video conference … in civil cases is permissible to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure so that litigants can access justice in a timely fashion while keeping all jurors, court personnel, litigants, and the public safe.”

Along with the Order, the Supreme Court adopted guidelines issued by the Court Operations During COVID-19 Taskforce.

This new procedure will try to navigate a course that follows the Seventh Amendment’s guaranteed right to a trial by jury and public health officials’ calls for social distancing to avoid spread of the contagious coronavirus in close quarters such as court facilities.

“Nothing in this Order limits the authority of circuits to adopt measures to protect health and safety that are more restrictive than this Order, as circumstances warrant. Circuits are encouraged to move toward conducting as much court business as can be done consistent with public health and safety, in the interest of fair and timely administration of justice.”

Although this Order considers the constitutional right of a civil jury trial, it does not address how to conduct the parts of a trial after jury selection, presenting evidence, and the jury’s deliberations.

The Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution grants litigants the right to civil jury trials, in “lawsuits at common law,” where the amount in controversy is more than Twenty Dollars ($20.00).

In addition to the announcement accompanying the Order, the Illinois Supreme Court explained that each circuit court around the state has discretion to take advantage of remote jury selection or choose not to.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling civil jury trials in Illinois for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Worth, Midlothian, Orland Park, Tinley Park, Franklin Square, Lockport, Lansing, Lemont, Bolingbrook, Naperville, Wheaton, Prospect Heights, Northbrook, Mundelein, North Chicago, Grayslake, Algonquin, Barrington, Chicago (Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, Wrigleyville, Roscoe Village, Beverly, West Ridge, Edgewater, Andersonville, Uptown, Buena Park, Old Town, River North, Fulton River District, Chinatown, Little Italy, Bridgeport, Canaryville, Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Gage Park), Cicero, Winnetka, Forest Park, Crestwood, Melrose Park and Western Springs, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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