Burnette trial to resume Tuesday morning

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 9:44 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2021 at 1:29 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The federal corruption trial of JT Burnette will resume Tuesday morning after it was suspended Friday when the court learned an unvaccinated juror was possibly exposed to COVID-19.

The resumption of the trial was placed on the docket Monday afternoon. Court will be back in session at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

You can read WCTV’s previous story on the trial’s delay below.

The federal corruption trial of JT Burnette has adjourned for the day after the court learned an unvaccinated juror was possibly exposed to COVID-19, the judge announced in a statement Friday morning.

A statement from Judge Robert Hinkle says one of the jurors visited her mother at an emergency room in the area. Her mother was later diagnosed with COVID-19 and pneumonia.

“The juror and her mother live in the same house, though they have had no close contact in recent days,” the statement says. “At the emergency room, the juror and her mother were masked and perhaps three or four feet from one another. The juror is unvaccinated.”

The statement also says the juror reported her possible COVID-19 exposure to the court security officer at the front desk when she arrived Friday morning. The court says she was immediately separated from “all others,” and no other juror was exposed Friday.

Throughout the trial, the jurors have been masked, except during jury selection, according to the court. The jurors were socially distanced at that time.

“Two jury rooms have been used during the trial so that jurors can remain socially distanced during breaks,” the statement says. “Everyone — the judge, attorneys, witnesses, court personnel, and the public — has been continuously masked in the courtroom, except while speaking as part of the proceeding and socially distanced.”

The unvaccinated juror is in the process of getting tested for coronavirus and will report to the court once the results are in.

The court’s statement says the trial will continue when testing confirms that no remaining juror has been exposed and it is safe to go forward. The defense and prosecution teams agreed on this decision. The other jurors were OK with the decision as well.

When the court determines a date for the trial to resume, a notice will be posted on the public docket.

Judge Hinkle had initially announced there was a scheduling conflict around 9:30 a.m. The announcement came after a private conversation between the attorneys and judge — who were wearing headphones and wireless mics.

You can read the full statement from the court below:


Copyright 2021 WCTV. All rights reserved.