Palmer Court to restart criminal jury trials in April

After a severe windstorm caused significant water damage to its facilities, the Palmer Court will begin hearing jury trials again in April.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 5:44 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - After a severe windstorm that ripped through the Matanuska-Susitna Borough at the start of the year caused significant water damage to its facilities, the Palmer Court will begin hearing jury trials again in April.

The courthouse in Palmer closed to the public in January after the extreme weather caused a sprinkler line to burst, which inundated the building with around 300 gallons of water. This caused extensive damage to the building, and the Palmer Court had to cease many in-person activities including jury trials.

The first jury trial since the damage will be held in the first week of April, according to a press release from the Alaska Court System. In May, two additional courtrooms will also become functional for jury trials. The release stated that all courtrooms should be reopened by the summer and that telephonic hearings have been ongoing for all criminal and civil cases — including felonies, misdemeanors, domestic violence, and Child In Need of Aid cases — in courtrooms not affected by the water damage.

“The Palmer court will hold the first criminal jury trial in courtroom 7 since the extreme weather event in early January caused extensive damage to the courthouse,” the release said. “Beginning in May, two more courtrooms – 6 and 8 – will also be functional for jury trials, and by summer all courtrooms should be re-opened.”

The court in Palmer has been able to host grand juries since March 2. The release says that COVID-19-related suspensions were removed and jury trials began on Jan. 10 in the rest of the Alaska state courts. To date, 79 jury trials have been held across Alaska since the suspensions were lifted. The court system is arranging safety measures for jury trials and posted a video with Superior Court Judge John Cagle for jurors.

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