One ACT judge has abandoned a trial while another has pressed ahead with stringent social distancing measures, as the court system grapples with the rapidly developing coronavirus pandemic.
Justice John Burns on Monday discharged a jury in a Supreme Court trial, which started last Monday. It is understood the trial had at least another two days remaining.
A juror in the criminal matter called the court on Monday to say they were ill, and there were difficulties configuring the courtroom to allow for adequate social distancing measures.
The defence lawyer for the accused, whose name is suppressed, raised concerns the jury would be distracted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Justice Burns acknowledged jurors were required by law to attend court proceedings, and no matter what precautions were put in place, they were put at increased risk by virtue of their attendance.
Meantime, Chief Justice Helen Murrell selected a jury via video link for another trial. Once it started, jurors were seated in the public gallery several seats apart.
Defence barrister Steven Whybrow told jurors they were "making history" in an "innovative" time, and said it was important they "put everything else" out of their minds and focus on the criminal matter.
A practice direction issued on Monday by Supreme Court registrar Amanda Nuttall said all people attending the court had to observe social distancing rules by staying 1.5 metres apart.
Ms Nuttall said people on bail should only attend the Supreme Court for contested hearings, and only two jury trials could proceed concurrently. Civil mediations and criminal case conferencing would go ahead as usual, and the registrar and deputy registrar would conduct their lists via video link.
"Jury trials will proceed, provided that appropriate hygiene and social distancing standards can be met," Ms Nuttall said.
The Magistrates Court has paused all contested hearings for two weeks from Monday to April 3, except for people who are in jail.
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