Pitkin County jury trials cannot begin until move back to Yellow

Jury trials that were set to resume in Pitkin County next week have been postponed until the state moves the county back to Yellow level restrictions, according to a judge’s order issued last week.

And even when Yellow restrictions resume, judges here will still need to receive permission from the 9th Judicial District Chief Judge James Boyd to conduct jury trials, according to the order from Boyd.

Because of the order issued March 25, Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely postponed a jury trial in her court that was set to begin Thursday until June, according to Ely’s order filed Wednesday.

Jury trials, set to begin Monday across the state by order of the chief justices of the Colorado Supreme Court, can start in counties under Green or Blue level restrictions without issues, according to Boyd’s order.

For counties in Yellow, the presiding judge must confer with the district’s chief judge “about the circumstances of the particular case and the details of the health conditions set in the (state’s COVID-19) Dial and the chief judge will determine if the jury trial may proceed,” the order states.

Pitkin County is the only county in Colorado under Orange level restrictions. All other counties are in either Yellow, Blue or Green.

Pitkin County must average under 90 new COVID-19 cases and a positivity rate 7.5% or under for seven consecutive days before state public health officials will downgrade the restrictions back to Yellow.

According to local epidemiological data, the county averaged 86 new cases during the seven-day period that ended Tuesday and 64 new cases during the seven-day period that ended Wednesday. However, Pitkin County averaged more than 100 cases each day for the six days before that.

That means the county must average under 90 cases over seven days for the next five days to move back to Yellow.

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