Judge declares mistrial after juror goes home sick

Providence Superior Court_224524

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A mistrial was declared Thursday in a criminal case being heard in Providence Superior Court after a juror in a separate trial went home sick.

According to court spokesperson Craig Berke, the juror, who is a nurse, felt fine while sitting on a civil case Wednesday, but the following day reported feeling unwell to the sheriff.

Judge Stephen Nugent excused the juror and the trial continued.

In the meantime, in an adjourning courtroom, a judge hearing a criminal case became concerned because the jury shared a staircase with the jury in Nugent’s case, Berke said, so the judge declared a mistrial to send the jurors home out of an abundance of caution.

A mistrial was eventually declared in the civil case, too, but for a reason unrelated to the sick juror, according to Berke.

The cause of the illness is unclear at this time but Berke said the juror may have a connection to the overseas trip organized by St. Raphael Academy tied to three local cases of coronavirus.

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Berke said the juror’s information has been forwarded to the R.I. Department of Health.

“As it stands now, it is up to each individual judge what they want to do,” he added. “This is a case-by-case basis. We haven’t closed our doors…so far there are no indications coronavirus is in the building.”

The whole facility is now undergoing “enhanced cleaning and disinfecting,” according to Berke. He also noted there are more than 200 hand sanitizer dispensers located throughout all of the court’s buildings and another 54 will be installed soon.

Anyone who has questions regarding the virus can call the R.I. Department of Health at (401) 222-8022 or visit the department’s website.

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