PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Cameras are usually barred from going inside the Criminal Justice Center in Center City, but Eyewitness News was given exclusive access to show what changes potential jurors could expect when trials begin again next month.
“The jurors are going to come through this area right here,” said Patrick Martin, the director of jury service at the Criminal Justice Center at 13th and Filbert Streets in Center City.
Martin has worked tirelessly to map out a plan that will finally allow jurors to safely enter the CJC.
“Once they come here, they’ll be sent down to our jury assembly room,” Martin said.
That’s where temperature checks are performed by a machine. Then jurors will get seated in one of two assembly rooms with plenty of space between them.
“We’re going every other row just to ensure six feet social distancing in all areas,” Martin said.
After jurors are selected for a trial, they are then sent to a courtroom. There are acrylic barriers at every table.
Usually, 14 jurors sit in an area called the jury box, but during the pandemic, only four jurors will sit there. The 10 others will sit in the audience, keeping physical distancing in mind.
“It’s going to be an adjustment for the court staff, but that’s the way we’re going to do it to keep everybody safe,” Martin said.
As for those who don’t feel comfortable serving their jury duty right now?
“We understand that so what we’re ending up doing is saying not a problem, we’re going to give you a date a few months out so that doesn’t get them out of jury service,” Martin said, “but we will give them their time out. We need to keep the wheels of justice rolling.”
Jury trials are expected to restart on Sept. 8.