Convention center to be used for jury selection, trials in Allegheny Co. starting next month

After months of cases in limbo, jury trials will get back up and running in Allegheny Co.

PITTSBURGH — Jury trials will resume at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center starting Oct. 19, according to court documents

The court order spells out that jury selection, all civil trials and some criminal cases will take place at the facility in Downtown Pittsburgh. Criminal trials will be allowed at the facility only if the defendant is not in prison, the crime did not involve a gun or other weapon and the case does not involve delivery of a controlled substance.

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The spread of COVID-19 has been a real concern, especially after a half a dozen cases were reported among employees and prosecutors at the Allegheny County courthouse.

In July, an assistant district attorney, Russ Broman, died from the coronavirus. Before his death, he was adamant he contracted the deadly virus at the courthouse.

Now, his close friend – a local defense attorney who was outspoken about concerns at the courthouse – says he’s ready to get trials back on track safely.

“It’s not just me, it’s not just my clients, it’s not just court personnel,” said Patrick Nightingale. “It’s the citizens of Allegheny County who are coming in to perform their civic duty to perform as jurors, and we must absolutely do everything in our power to keep them safe too.”

Other locations are also available for criminal cases, according to the documents:

  • Courtroom 700 located on the 7th floor of the City-County Building
  • The Gold Room located on the 4th floor of the courthouse
  • Courtroom 313 located on the 3rd floor of the courthouse

Traffic cases may also take place at the convention center with approval of the Allegheny County Sheriff.

The Sheriff’s Office will provide all security for court activities at the convention center.

Jurors, witnesses, victims, defendants, attorneys, employees, judges and staff members are subject to health and safety measures:

  • Security screening upon entry to the convention center, the City-County Building and the courthouse.
  • Temperature checks
  • COVID-19 screening questions
  • Social distancing in all courtrooms and jury rooms
  • Face masks or coverings must be worn by everyone entering or remaining in court facilities
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be place throughout the facilities
  • The public, including the news media, will observe trials in separate rooms
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