Lewis County Superior Court has again extended its suspension of all jury trials, this time until at least the week of Feb. 28.
All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled for the weeks of Feb. 14 and Feb. 21 will be rescheduled.
Bench trials — trials where a judge hears a case and makes a decision without a jury — will continue to be held, as will all other types of court hearings.
Parties in both civil and criminal matters are encouraged to participate remotely if possible. More information on how to do so is available online at lewiscountywa.gov/offices/superior-court/video-appearance-links/.
Those who attend in person are required to strictly follow masking and social distancing requirements in the courtroom.
While state and federal law requires courts to maintain a defendant’s right for a speedy trial, which in Washington state means the court has 60 days from the day the defendant enters a plea on charges to bring the case to trial, the 60 day countdown is on hold for the duration of the closure.
The court cited information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with guidance from local officials, the state Supreme Court and Gov. Jay Inslee’s restrictions regarding COVID-19 as reasons for limiting court operations.
The suspension, which was originally issued the first week of January, marks the third time Lewis County Superior Court has put jury trials on hold since the start of the pandemic.
The first suspension, which put jury trials on hold from March 2020 to March 2021, amassed a backlog of hundreds of cases, according to Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer. The second suspension lasted two months and was lifted in early November.