Pinellas County News Briefs - Jan. 24, 2021

Three Pinellas County constitutional officers, whose duties, responsibilities and powers are defined by the state Constitution and statutes, were sworn in during a Jan. 5 ceremony at the Historic Pinellas County Courthouse in Clearwater. From left, Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Ken Burke; Property Appraiser Mike Twitty; and Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus take the oath of office. All three were Republican incumbents reelected to 4-year terms on Nov. 3.

AVA shuttle service temporarily suspended

ST. PETERSBURG — Due to a closure Bayshore Drive for the St. Petersburg Power and Sailboat Show, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Autonomous Vehicle Advantage’s shuttle service will be temporarily suspended through Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. Service will resume as scheduled on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 10 a.m.

For more information regarding the schedule of AVA, visit psta.net.

Coronavirus spike halts Pinellas jury trials

Jury trials have been temporarily suspended in Pinellas County because of the recent spike in both the number of new COVID-19 cases and the percentage of positive tests.

Anthony Rondolino, the chief judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit, modified the circuit’s operational plan as it affects Pinellas County as of Jan. 5. Last month, he also temporarily suspended jury trials in Pasco County for the same reasons.

The ruling means no juries will be impaneled at any of the courthouses in the two counties, and no witnesses expected to testify will be required to go to those facilities.

Rondolino’s decision on Pinellas County came after the latest statistics showed, among other things, the test positivity rate jumping to 11.4 percent. According to a press release from the court, once the positivity rate of those tested breaks 10 percent, a chief judge is required to consider changing his court operational plan, which Rondolino has done.

The suspensions are expected to remain in effect until the numbers improve and the risks are reduced. Trials may be scheduled by judges, with the understanding circumstances may not permit the proceeding to go forward once the date arrives.