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From clear plastic covering the Bible to sneeze guards protecting attorneys and defendants, the Halifax County Courthouse is ready for when jury trials resume January 4.

Judges, the district attorney, clerk of court, the Halifax County Bar, the sheriff’s office and county health department all worked on the jury resumption plan, said Denise Cherry, who is the court manager, judicial assistant and COVID facilitator for the court system.

“I appreciate all the hard work from the operations department for expanding the jury box and hanging the sneeze guards. We couldn’t have made it possible without them,” Cherry said.

Benches are taped with blue tape on one side and green on the other to denote where those should sit during court.

There is a maximum audience capacity of 30 people in the superior courtroom and staff is only allowing people who have business before the court inside.

Jurors will be required to wear masks and there will be hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes so their seats can be cleaned.

The courtrooms will be cleaned during breaks and cleaned every morning before jurors get in, Cherry said.

The judges have plexiglass in front of them as do the court reporters and the clerk sitting for the proceedings and there will be plexiglass between the court reporter and the witness.

At the entrance to the lobby of the courthouse a member of the district attorney’s office will check in people for criminal court.

An EMT is in the courthouse lobby to do temperature checks and other screenings. 

Inside one of the district courtrooms, Judge Vershenia B. Moody was preparing to hold court as bailiffs, attorneys, witnesses and defendants wore masks.

“Our chief justice and local COVID coordinator have taken very seriously the safety of courthouse personnel staff and citizens,” Moody said. “Based on all their efforts, we can all feel comfortable that every measure is being taken to prevent the spread of the COVID virus while we conduct court business.”

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Alma Hinton said, “We have taken great measures to ensure not only court personnel safety but the safety of the citizens of Halifax County as they meet their civic responsibilities.”

County Health Director Bruce Robistow said, “I physically went over there. Denise has been incredible about keeping in touch. Her and the judges as well have done an incredible job in protecting everyone in the judicial system. It will play a great part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”