Ontario superior court suspending juries for upcoming trials amid coronavirus outbreak

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (SCJ) is suspending juries for upcoming trials amid increasing cases of COVID-19 in the province.

“Until further notice, Chief Justice (Geoffrey) Morawetz has suspended jury panels in all SCJ locations for upcoming civil and criminal jury trials,” a spokesperson for the court told Global News in an email statement.

“Summoned jurors will be instructed not to attend court. Jury trials currently in progress will continue, subject to the trial judge’s discretion.”

The SCJ is set to release more details about the decision on Friday.

Jenessa Crognali, press secretary to Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey, called the decision a “precautionary measure” to keep court staff and visitors sage.

“The Ministry of the Attorney General continues to monitor the evolving situation on COVID-19 and we will continue working with the SCJ and other partners on preparedness planning for the justice sector,” she told Global News in a statement.

The decision to suspend upcoming jury trials comes on the same day the Ontario government announced that all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools will be closed until April 5. March break in the province begins on Monday.

Thursday also saw this biggest single-day increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. In total, 17 new cases were announced Thursday morning. The total number of confirmed cases to date in the province is 59.

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