IN THE MATTER OF SCHEDULING JURY TRIALS - Western Division
On March 17, 2020, Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange entered Standing
Order 20-03, cancelling jury trials and grand jury proceedings through Apri
24, 2020, due to the outbreak of the respiratory disease COVID-19 in South
Dakota and the bordering states. The COVID-19 virus continued to spread i
the United States and within the State of South Dakota and it was projected
that the number of COVID-19 infections in South Dakota would not crest until
sometime in June 2020.
On April 8, 2020, because of the increasing spread of COVID-19 and
after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and consulting
with representatives of numerous agencies, Chief Judge Lange entered a First
Amended Standing Order 20-03 which extended cancellation of jury trials and
grand jury proceedings through July 6, 2020
Since July 6, 2020, some divisions of the District of South Dakota hav
experienced a decline in the spread of COVID-19 and have successfully
conducted jury trials and allowed grand juries to convene. In the Western
Division, COVID-19 continues to spread making it difficult to predict when jur
trials may be safely conducted.
By a Third Amended Standing Order 20-03 issued on July 22, 2020
Chief Judge Lange left it to each judge in each division to determine whether
COVID-19 continues to be a significant health issue in that judge's division
By the standing order, each district judge is authorized to determine whether
there is an inability to safely call and retain an adequate cross-section of jurors
in order to conduct criminal jury trials. Each judge is authorized to make
findings as to whether the interests of justice are best served by continuing
criminal jury trials and whether that decision outweighs the interest of the
public and any defendant's right to a speedy trial. If the court makes those
findings, it may exclude the resulting periods of delay under the Speedy Trial
Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A)
The court finds that since July 7, 2020, the Western Division of the
District of South Dakota continues to experience rising COVID-19 positive test
results, community spread of the virus and deaths caused at least in part by
COVID-19. The court further finds the existing public health emergency and
the need to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control continues to
create an inability to safely call jurors for criminal jury trials.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the ends of justice are best served by continuing criminal
jury trials until August 24, 2020, and that decision outweighs the interest of
the public and any defendant's right to a speedy trial. The court will make
particularized findings as to the criminal jury trial presently scheduled for
August 18, 2020, after determining whether this trial may safely proceed.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to the Third Amended
Standing Order 20-03 and until further order of the court the periods of delay
resulting from these continuances are excluded under the Speedy Trial Act
18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A).
Dated July 27, 2020.