Status of Courts with the Lifting of Covid Restrictions

Nearly everyone I know is so grateful Covid-19 restrictions are starting to lift.  I know I am certainly ready for life to get back to some semblance of normal.  I personally, am a people person and enjoy social activities and interactions.  Now that COVID-19 restrictions are being removed, how does this impact how cases are handled in the courts?  Are hearings in person?  Is the backlog we were experiencing being addressed?  In looking at www.utcourts.gov, it is stated that as of June 3, 2021, all counties have moved to the yellow phase of court operations.  In moving to the yellow phase, each individual court and county have flexibility in determining how to resume in-court proceedings.
Under the yellow phase, District and Justice court may begin conducting in-person civil and criminal jury trials, as long as they have as their pandemic risk response plan has been approved by the Management Committee.    In all civil and criminal jury trials, the Defendant has the right, should be chosen to do so, to appear by video conferencing if they have an effective ability to participate, have meaningful interaction with counsel, and the ability to be able to view witnesses and trial participants.  In my experience, the hearings I have attended by video conferencing have been conducted via WebEx. The Judge’s clerk sends an invite through email.
Now that jury trials are being scheduled, it is anticipated that many Utahns will receive notices that they have been called for jury duty.  Judges are anticipating their calendars will be very full with trials this year in the hope of clearing their calendars from the backlog that was created when everything was put on hold due to COVID-19 last year.  Typically, there are approximately 1200 trials held in Utah each year – 350 of which generally involve a jury trial.  I understand that the use of federal COVID-19 relief funds has been approved to bring Judges out of retirement to help address the backlog.
Now that Utah is getting the legal system back on track, trials, hearings, and other judicial matters will start happening, and cases will move forward.

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