As COVID-19 cases rise, Bay County Courthouse must move jury trials online if possible

Local News

PANAMA CITY, FLA. (WMBB) — The Bay County Courthouse does not plan to change its mask policy, despite a rise in COVID-19 cases, as the Delta variant rises throughout Bay County. 

In concurrence with the Florida policy, masks will continue to be optional in the courthouse. However, they must be offered to people inside the courtroom if requested.

According to a statement from the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, jury trials must be online if possible.

The new policy about those trials will go into effect on Aug. 2. News 13 conducted their interviews for this story before the new policy was announced.

“We are updating the local bar, the attorneys in the area as well as our judges,” Judge Christopher Patterson said. So they know what’s happening, they can decide if they need to take additional precautions.”

“One of the things we’re continuing to do is to emphasize remote appearances for certain types of cases,” Patterson said. “So that we’re not completely bringing back everyone back into the courthouse and into small areas.”

Courthouse employees have the option to work from home a couple times a week, Patterson said. However, they are expected to be in the Courthouse multiple times each week. 

“The court just can’t stop doing what it’s doing. We’ve got to keep functioning and this is the way we’ve chosen to proceed,” Patterson said.

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