Grand jury proceedings will begin again on Friday in Floyd County after being stalled since March 6 during the statewide health emergency order.
“We were very fortunate to be next door to the Forum,” Rome Circuit District Attorney Leigh Patterson said.
She’s talked to DAs in other circuits who don’t have the room available to meet COVID-19 standards.
Prospective grand jury members will be summoned to report to the Forum River Center and park in the Third Avenue parking deck. They will be prescreened at the entrance, and masks will be required during proceedings.
Chairs are spread out over a large area in two of the Forum’s large rooms and sanitizing stations are installed throughout the facility. Areas where people congregate will be sanitized and fogged regularly.
“We want everyone to feel safe,” Patterson said.
Grand jurors will go into the main Forum River Center arena to be sworn in and 26 people will be chosen from that initial pool, 23 grand jurors and three alternates. Those grand jurors will then move across the hall to the ballroom area for proceedings.
All but essential court functions were halted by Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton as a result of the pandemic and, despite the resumption of more court functions — like grand jury — the justice system in Georgia will still be operating at a diminished capacity.
Jury trials are expected to resume on Dec. 7 using the Forum and Courtroom A. However, that’s just two courtrooms to begin to clear nearly nine months of backlogs.