Civil Trials Resume in Berkshire County, Criminal Cases Wait
Berkshire County may be seeing its first jury trials this week since the pandemic hit a year ago. They would be on a limited basis and would also not yet involve criminal defendants. The Berkshire Eagle reported last week that the Massachusetts Trial Court has summoned jurors for tentative sessions today, Tuesday and Wednesday at Berkshire Superior Court.
The publication reports that the search continues however for alternative court locations that would allow fuller operations during the pandemic.
Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington says that for now, judicial proceedings will be limited, by order of the Supreme Judicial Court, to what’s known as “jury of 6” trials. She told the Eagle that even as trials resume locally Monday, the state Trial Court is moving forward with alternative court space.
I'm happy with these developments. I'd love to be trying criminal cases. It does seem that we're making progress ~ Harrington
If trials are not ready to move forward next week, jurors will be notified, according to Jennifer Donahue, speaking for the Trial Court.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state reviewed the quality of indoor ventilation at all courthouses, including Berkshire Superior Court. According to the Eagle story, that study, by Tighe & Bond, found that the 1871 Pittsfield building’s main courtroom could accommodate 35 people.
Trial court officials have been looking for alternate locations for trials in Berkshire County that would prevent the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The shuttered Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough, was among the locations considered, as was the field house at Berkshire Community College. The latter site however may have been dropped because it is being used for COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the newspaper.