Gwinnett County to cancel jury trials through at least March 30

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter appears before a court hearing at Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. All jury cases are off until at least March 27. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

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Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter appears before a court hearing at Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. All jury cases are off until at least March 27. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

Gwinnett County has declared a judicial emergency and will not hold jury trials for at least two weeks.

The decision, made Friday afternoon to limit the spread of the coronavirus, allows trials that are currently in session to finish. But no new juries or grand juries will be asked to report through at least March 27, according to an order signed by George F. Hutchinson III, the chief judge of Gwinnett's superior court.

One ongoing case, the felony murder trial of Terrence Lee in front of Judge Randy Rich, will be suspended until April 6.

There are some matters that are considered essential and will continue to be heard. They are first appearance hearings, arrest and search warrants, temporary protective order applications and hearings for family violence and stalking and probation revocation hearings at the jail, as well as other misdemeanor jail court calendars.

Other matters may be deemed essential by a judge, but none of them will involve summoning new jurors, the order said.

Additionally, no new garnishment filings will be accepted while the state of emergency remains in place.

Danny Porter, the Gwinnett District Attorney, said he expects judicial partners to meet weekly by teleconference to determine if the order should be extended. His office will remain open, but most employees will work from home.

“It’ll give them time to catch up on all those things they say they don’t have time to do,” Porter said of his staff. “I don’t think we know what the impact and implications are.”

Porter also said his office will not accept any documents, including mail, through lobby windows. Materials will sit out for 24 hours before being sorted in the hopes that the virus won’t survive.

Any meetings about cases will also be held over the phone or through other means, he said.

The county solicitor’s office will be closed through March 27.

Additionally, the city of Snellville said it was canceling March 19 jury trials and would close its municipal court Wednesday and March 25.

The city also suspended activities at its senior center and canceled parks and recreation events.