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Judiciary Postpones Trials Until End of May

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald today ordered that trials in civil, criminal, and family courts be postponed to a date after May 29, 2020, or the termination of Gov. David Ige’s state of emergency, whichever is sooner, unless otherwise ordered by the chief judge of the respective circuit. He also ordered the formation of the Committee on OperationalSolutions, a group formed to accelerate the courts’ capabilities to conduct court proceedings remotely as appropriate in light of the COVID-19 crisis and plan for the safe and timely transition to increased court operations over the coming months.

The committee will be chaired by Chief Justice Recktenwald and First Circuit Judge Paul B.K. Wong and will include representatives from all four judicial circuits. Additionally, Hawaii State Bar Association President P. Gregory Frey will serve as the representative of the bar. The Judiciary has also been in communication with the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii and the office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz regarding the work of the new committee.

“While our community has responded well to stay-at-home orders and the results of these public health measures have been encouraging, the Judiciary must continue to do our part to protect the health and safety of our court personnel and court users,” Chief Justice Recktenwald said.

“However, we recognize the importance of addressing as many cases as possible, either by teleconferencing or videoconferencing, as appropriate. We formed the Committee on Operational Solutions in order to devote resources to significantly increasing the Judiciary’s technological capabilities in a swift and systematic fashion,” the Chief Justice added.

“As we look to restarting full Judiciary operations, I anticipate we will conduct the business of the courts in ways that respond appropriately to the new normal, while in accordance with the law. The committee will also address the operational challenges posed by a return to fuller operations in light of COVID-19 and plan for that transition, and particularly, the challenges posed by conducting jury trials.”

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