The Coweta County Judicial Circuit’s plan for resuming grand juries has been completed and submitted to the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Grand juries, as well as trial juries, stopped meeting in March under judicial emergency orders related to COVID-19.
In his most recent judicial emergency order, issued Sept. 10, Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton announced a path to begin holding grand juries. Each judicial circuit was asked to put together a plan and submit it within 30 days. Chief Judge John Simpson submitted the Coweta Circuit’s plan Sept. 30. The circuit covers five counties: Coweta, Carroll, Troup, Heard and Meriwether.
Health guidelines will have to be followed, with jurors wearing a face covering and staying 6 feet apart from each other. Everyone will get a temperature check and COVID-19 checklist survey before entering the building.
Judge Emory Palmer will be the initial supervising judge for grand juries in Coweta. Simpson will be the supervising judge in Carroll County and Judge Markette Baker will be the supervising judge in Troup.
Jurors will be chosen as usual, with random selection, and jurors will receive staggered times to appear on the summons, according to the plan.
There are many reasons that someone could be excused from duty on the grand jury. The plan states that COVID-19 related excusals will be granted at the discretion of the supervising judge.
Georgia law already allows for jurors to be excused if they are over age 70, engaged in work necessary to the public health, enrolled full time in school, are the primary caregiver of a child 6 or under with no reasonable alternative for childcare, are the primary teacher in a home-school program or responsible for supervising remote learning for an elementary or middle school student, or are a primary caregiver of someone with physical or cognitive limitations such that they cannot be left unattended with no reasonable alternative for childcare.