Status of reopening of the courts


This page will be updated frequently. E-mail the Defender ( if you have any questions.

Though courts are re-opening, there are still many unresolved issues as the FJD works to ensure the safety of everyone who works and enters Philly’s courtrooms during the current pandemic. We will be updating this page as we receive new information from the courts. 

Click on a category below to see the latest information[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tta_accordion color=”blue” active_section=”0″ no_fill=”true” collapsible_all=”true”][vc_tta_section title=”Jury Trials (updated 9/9/2020)” tab_id=”1599659480121-e86ef7f3-c25d”][vc_column_text]

  • Jury trials commence on September 8th, 2020
  • To promote social distancing, there will be no more than three jury trials held at one time. The courts will initially focus on cases dealing with the most serious charges.
  • There is currently no space for a gallery (attendees). The Defender is working on proposing alternate spaces outside of the CJC to use as overflow seating for the public.

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  • We are currently anticipating waiver trials starting in 2 to 3 weeks, once plexiglass is installed in all of the courtrooms.
  • There will be no more than 2 trials per room each day–at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • There will be a gallery, but it will be limited to 8 people maximum, including all witnesses. To be on the list to sit in the gallery, you will need to coordinate with the attorney.

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  • MC trials are generally on hold until January 2021. However, attorneys are reviewing the individual cases of those in custody.
  • Preliminary hearings are happening both in-person and virtually, under the following conditions:
    • Hearings are limited to 3 rooms, with 9 prelims per room every day (8am, 9am, or 10am)
    • In general, the courts are prioritizing hearings for those people who have been in custody the longest
    • If a case is listed as a status hearing, it will likely be virtual, and court appearance for the defendant will be waived.  The family of the defendant can still participate via Zoom.
    • If a case is listed as a preliminary hearing, defendants should double-check to make sure it is in-person
    • MC courtrooms will allow 10-12 people in the gallery, including all witnesses. Attendees will need to plan in advance through the attorney to be on the list to attend.
  • Some motions hearings will be in-person, some will be on Zoom, usually depending on the room and whether live witnesses are needed.
  • At the moment, things are changing week to week, so there’s no single “across-the-board” process. What happens will be on a room-by-room, case-by-case basis.


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