COVID 19 Delayed Justice: Baldwin County adds thermal scanners to courts

Baldwin County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Baldwin County Presiding Judge Clark Stankoski says jury trials will resume in Bay Minette on September 21st. Already anyone going into the courthouse is required to wear a mask. But there will be extra precautions as jurors are summoned for trials.

“We’ve ordered thermal scanners that all the jurors, witnesses and parties will have to come through,” said Judge Stankoski. “We’ve revamped the cleaning schedule and really all the stuff that all businesses are having to do.”

Just like in Mobile’s courts, jurors will not be put in the traditional jury box, but spaced out in the court gallery.

There is an expense to making these changes. In Mobile for example, the courts are focused on technology to allow jurors to see and hear witnesses better. Baldwin County is saving money in that area for now, but those thermal scanners the Judge mentioned cost about $15,000 each. They are buying three of them. An allotment of CARES Act money is helping out.

“We have been allotted in Baldwin County in excess of $300,000 that if we spend it on COVID upgrades or COVID mitigation we can be reimbursed that money,” said Stankoski.

Baldwin County was also one of the test counties for a new online jury summons where potential jurors can answer some eligibility questions before ever going to the courthouse.

“We were one of the testing counties—we have ordered a grand jury that is going to start August 24th and we have actually already used the system to order our grand jury,” said the Judge.

The early testing of that online system clearly showed however that many potential jurors were uncomfortable being summoned to the court during the pandemic.

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