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First Zoom jury trial underway as coronavirus keeps courts closed

The first jury trial via Zoom is underway as courts remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, lawyers debating an insurance case in Collin County District Court in Texas used the popular video conferencing application to select jurors. Reuters reported that more than 24 potential jurors virtually attended Monday’s summary jury trial — which was livestreamed on YouTube.

The news outlet explained that the summary jury trial is a one-day hearing in which jurors hear an abridged version of the case and provide a non-binding verdict. The plaintiff and defendant use the verdict to determine how their case would have fared if it went to trial. The following day, all parties will attend a mediation hearing in hopes of reaching an agreement.

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Reuters reported that Monday’s hearing stemmed from a dispute that the insurance company State Farm failed to financially cover damage a building sustained during a 2017 storm. The case was initially scheduled to go to trial in McKinney in March.

Judge Emily Miskel, who oversaw Monday’s trial, said the virtual hearing could show whether a “hybrid approach” — in which jurors are selected remotely and the rest of the trial is conducted in person — is viable for courts even after the pandemic.

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[Featured image: Pixabay]