All jury trials in Riverside County Superior Court will be postponed until at least the first week of 2021 as a precaution to reduce coronavirus exposure risks, court officials announced Monday.
Presiding Judge John Vineyard made the decision based on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s region-by-region stay-at-home order, which took effect at midnight.
The order calls for broad limits on day-to-day activity for a minimum of three weeks amid the ongoing second-wave surge in COVID-19 cases. The baseline determinant for implementation is 15% intensive care unit bed capacity. Any region where the number of beds falls below that threshold triggers the new lockdown.
Southern California hit the trigger.
“As a result … all new jury trials are suspended through Dec. 31,” according to a Superior Court statement. “The order is only applicable to jury trials that have not commenced. This order does not affect jury trials that are in progress, which will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”
Vineyard first mandated a blanket halt to all jury trials countywide in mid-March, when he closed eight courthouses under the governor’s original stay-at-home order.
All but four courthouses were reopened in June, when jury proceedings were additionally allowed to resume, with social distancing and mask protocols in place.
Vineyard will be replaced as presiding judge on Jan. 1 by Superior Court Judge John Monterosso, who will make the decision on whether to permit new jury trials, or continue the suspension.