Denver courts extend suspension of jury trials over omicron concerns.

A suspension of jury trials in Denver because of the COVID-19 omicron variant has been extended through Feb. 11.

In extending the suspension for health safety concerns related to omicron, Chief Judge Michael A. Martinez noted that on Friday Colorado’s 7-day positivity rate was 26.39% and Denver’s rate was 22.9%. Denver’s 7-day cumulative incidence rate of new cases as of Friday was 1,218 per 100,000 population.

“While these numbers do represent a modest decline on our indicators, these numbers remain alarmingly elevated as Omicron remains a highly contagious variant and thus continues to represent unnecessary risk to our staff, stakeholders, Judges and community members who we typically compel to attend court with other members of the public,” Martinez said in the order dated Friday.

As part of the order, Martinez noted the following COVID-19 vaccination numbers:

In Denver,
• 579,653 residents immunized with one vaccine dose
• 526,425 residents fully immunized (74.6% of Denver population)
• 261,792 residents have received a booster dose

In Colorado,
• 4.30 million people immunized with one vaccine dose
• 3.87 million people fully immunized (66.6% of Colorado population)
• 1.78 million people have received a booster dose

Martinez conferred with local health officials, Denver Department of Pubic Health and Environment, and presiding judges of Denver County, Juvenile, and Probate Courts, in coming to the extension order. The original suspension order was issued on Jan. 3.

“After conferring with DDPHE earlier this week, they cannot reliably project whether the decrease we’re seeing reflects a true reduction in Omicron/Covid cases in our community or, equally likely, decreasing numbers do not account for unreported home testing results and/or individuals who simply do not test because testing resources are unavailable,” Martinez said. “Simply, local public health officials cannot at this time credibly predict where this omicron variant will take our community next.”

Also on Friday, Boulder County extended its suspension on jury trials until at least Feb. 11 due to rising COVID-19 case numbers. At the beginning of the year, Boulder Chief Judge Ingrid Bakke suspended jury trials citing rising case numbers and the surge caused by the new omicron variant of the virus, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. The Boulder suspension was originally slated to end on Jan. 28, but on Friday Bakke issued an order extending the suspension until Feb. 11.

At the start of the month, jury trials were also suspended in Jefferson, Broomfield, Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties until at least Friday if not longer, because of omicron.

The highest 7-day positivity rate in the state on Friday was Lake County at 40.5%.

The Denver order is subject to review and revision in accordance with prevailing public health trends as well as guidelines from the CDPHE and DDPHE, Martinez wrote.

 

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