The nation's state and federal courts responded quickly to the coronavirus pandemic, adapting courthouses to conduct trials and finding the public ready to serve as jurors, Chief Justice John Roberts said Thursday in his annual year-end message on the judiciary.
To accommodate jury trials, trial courts reconfigured spaces, repurposing large courtrooms to maintain social distancing and installing Plexiglas to keep participants physically separated.
Judges in Michigan and Florida held drive-through naturalization ceremonies, and courts in Iowa and Minnesota moved theirs outdoors, he said.
Robert noted some of the history of the high court's responses to outbreaks, saying that America's first chief justice, John Jay, had to adjourn the young Supreme Court from sitting in Philadelphia in 1793 due to the yellow fever epidemic that killed 5,000 of the city's 50,000 residents.
Supreme Court sessions were again canceled in 1918 during the Spanish flu outbreak, the last time the court's work was disrupted until the Covid-19 pandemic.
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