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Wood County Commission discusses moving jury trials

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Commission Thursday discussed holding jury trials from Wood County Circuit Court and Magistrate Court in the Black annex.

Circuit Court Judge Jason Wharton said changes have been made to the court rooms to adhere with social distancing and to comply with the health department guidelines for the pandemic. It would be impossible to select jurors or hold jury trials in the court rooms because of the space and number of people who have to be in the room, according to Wharton.

Wharton asked the commissioners for a standing order to use the large conference room in the Judge Black Annex as a courtroom for as long as necessary.

The order was approved, but a schedule will need to be determined.

Commissioners also discussed other options.

Another location or locations may be needed because often times more than one trial is underway.

The smaller conference room in the annex will be used for discussions between the defendant and counsel or hearings outside of presence of the jury.

In other business before the commission, Andrew Bell has been hired as an assistant prosecuting attorney.

Prosecutor Pat Lefebure said Bell’s position is new and and he will primarily work in Magistrate Court.

The hiring will free other prosecutors to focus on abuse and neglect cases, Lefebure said

Madeline Scarborough can be reached at mscarborough@newsandsentinel.com

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