Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

When Will Jury Trials Resume in Missouri?

The Missouri Supreme Court’s most recent order for reopening the courthouses took effect on May 16, 2020. As its own branch of government, the Missouri Supreme Court controls the courthouses and decides when it’s safe to allow people in. The order includes a link to guidelines for courthouses to follow to determine when it’s safe to return. The guidelines call for certain benchmarks for the spread of the virus to be met before doors open.

The benchmarks relate to the spread of the virus in the courthouse’s county. Once certain benchmarks are met, a courthouse can move to the next phase of operation. Each phase relaxes the restrictions more until all courthouse functions are able to resume. One of the biggest benchmarks is the official virus count from the local health department and the rate at which the number increases or decreases. If the spread of the virus reduces in a county to a certain point, the courthouse can move into the next phase and loosen the restrictions. If the spread of the virus increases to a certain point, the courthouse will have to go back to the previous phase and tighten its restrictions.

Most jury trials will only resume when the county has phased out of the benchmark plan. In other words, the jury trials will resume only after the virus has stopped spreading in that county. The order does allow jury trials during some of the phases, but only for the “most extraordinary, pressing, and urgent cases.” Personal injury and wrongful death cases likely won’t qualify.

Even when a county phases out and trials are set to resume, the courthouse must follow the Supreme Court’s operational directives for conducting jury trials. These haven’t even been issued.

So, for jury trials, the answer to when they will resume in Missouri is when the virus gets under control. With lockdowns being lifted and distancing rules loosening, the virus spread may grow. This will further delay jury trials in personal injury and wrongful death cases in Missouri. Many of my colleagues anticipate that we won’t get to try cases until at least next year, and I unfortunately agree with that.

That being said, now is the time to file a claim if you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s negligence. Contact us to learn more and for a free consultation at 816.867.8611.