NJ Supreme Court Lifts Social Distancing and Mask Requirements for Jury Duty
In response to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social distancing and masks will no longer be required for jury proceedings in New Jersey courtrooms.
The changes, announced in an order signed today by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, go into effect Sept. 1.
The order makes clear that face masks are still permitted in jury proceedings but not required. It also continues the process for all jurors to report virtually at first while providing trial judges the discretion to continue juror voir dire virtually or in person.
The adjustments “should enable the Judiciary to support more jury trials, especially trials involving detained criminal defendants, and continue to protect the health of prospective jurors,” Chief Justice Rabner wrote.
The Judiciary also concluded its policy requiring all employees to either provide proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit results of a weekly COVID-19 test. That change also becomes effective Sept. 1.
The Judiciary continues to be guided in COVID-19-related matters such as these by advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey has continuously updated its court safety rules in response to CDC guidelines throughout the pandemic.
In March of this year, an order continued the requirement that all jury participants in-person wear masks and maintain at least three feet of distance. Later that month, the court extended the masking and social distancing requirements and continued to require all jury selections to begin virtually.
On August 11, 2022, the CDC issued updated guidance regarding COVID-19. In light of high levels of COVID-19 immunity, widespread availability of vaccines and boosters, and approved treatment options, the CDC no longer recommends social distancing or masking.
Effective September 1, 2022, and until further notice NJ courts will:
no longer require participants of in-person jury proceedings to maintain social distancing
conclude the requirement that all participants of an in-person jury wear masks
continue to allow prospective jurors an opportunity to raise concerns about reporting in person based on COVID-19 concerns during the virtual juror selection – which will also continue.
Continue to conduct voir dire virtually or in-person.