Jury duty, trials temporarily shut down in Milwaukee County due to COVID-19

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MILWAUKEE -- With Wisconsin in a public health emergency, now Milwaukee County is canceling jury duty -- and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections is shutting down all visits to state prisons. It comes amid a wave of cancellations for schools, sports, and church.

Because of the coronavirus crisis, the CDC recommends people keep six feet away from each other. But that is not possible in a jury room -- where potential jurors gather ahead of a trial. Normally, those rooms are packed. Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court John Barrett helped make the decision to shut down court for now.

"We are trying to make sure that people don't get sick. We think that the public health interest is much greater at this point in time than other interests," Barrett said.

Jury room at Milwaukee County Courthouse

Jurors already on trials in Milwaukee County should still show up. Those summoned from Monday, March 16 through April 3 are free to stay home.

"We are going to consider people who were summoned during that time period to have satisfied their duty. And they will be given the four-year hiatus," Barrett said.

But the screen will be on at Racine County Jail -- where they are shutting down their normal public visitation. They, like Milwaukee County, are replacing it with video chat. State prisons will also allow phone and video calls.

Waukesha County

Waukesha County has declared a state of emergency regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

In consultation with Chief Judge Jennifer Dorow and the Waukesha County Judges, jury services scheduled from March 16 through April 12 are canceled.  Jurors summoned for this time period should not report to the Courthouse for jury service.  Due to the severity of the risk posed to the public these precautions are necessary for the health, safety, protection and welfare of persons in Waukesha County.

Any jurors scheduled to appear after April 12 will be provided with updates.  For updates on juror service please visit the following website waukeshacounty.gov/juryservices .  General courts inquiries should be directed to 262-970-6676.

Additionally, the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department announced that public visitations at the Waukesha County Jail will be suspended starting March 16 until further notice with the exception of professional and attorney visits.

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