NJ high court upholds virtual grand juries in criminal cases

New Jersey’s Supreme Court has rejected a constitutional challenge to the use of virtual grand juries during the COVID-19 pandemic. A defendant facing drug charges in Mercer County brought the challenge, arguing that the Supreme Court violated separation of powers doctrines by authorizing the virtual format. In a 7-0 ruling Wednesday, the justices wrote that the virtual panels are a temporary measure to meet a public health emergency and are within the court’s authority. They also rejected defense attorneys’ argument that the juries compromised security and that a lack of access to technology would unconstitutionally exclude minority, poor and elderly jurors.