Criminal Trials Delayed in Connecticut Due to Concerns About COVID-19

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Hartford criminal law attorney for jury trialsThe coronavirus pandemic has affected the legal system in many ways, and some defendants have been left in limbo as they await a trial. To protect public safety, the courts in Connecticut have significantly reduced their capacity, and no criminal jury trials have been held in the state since March of 2020. While courts have taken protective measures and planned to begin holding trials, continued concerns about COVID-19 infections have delayed proceedings, and multiple cases involving court employees who have been infected have led some to call for the closure of courts for the time being. Because of this, many criminal defense attorneys are concerned about how this ongoing situation will affect the rights of defendants.

Delays in Trials Due to Difficulty Finding Jurors

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that those in the United States who are facing criminal charges have the right to a speedy, public trial before an impartial jury. Postponing criminal trials indefinitely would violate the rights of defendants, so courts have been working to determine how to resume these trials while still protecting the safety of everyone involved, including defendants, judges, attorneys, jurors, witnesses, and others who would be present in court.

Courts have taken steps to protect the safety of those who would be present during trials. These include requiring masks for everyone involved in a trial and following social distancing guidelines, as well as installing equipment to circulate clean air into courtrooms. However, the primary issue that is delaying trials is the difficulty of finding people who are willing to serve as jurors. Many people who have been contacted for jury service have not responded to summons, or they have asked to be excused because of concerns that they or their family members could be at risk of COVID-19 infections.

Most of the parties involved in criminal trials, including judges, lawyers, and legal scholars, have agreed that the people involved in a trial need to be together in the same room during legal proceedings. Judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and jurors need to be able to observe each other, gauge people’s reactions, and ensure that all rules and procedures are being followed correctly. Because of this, trials must be held in-person rather than remotely. Due to the delays that have occurred because of the difficulty of gathering all of the necessary personnel, some defense attorneys have argued that their clients’ cases should be dismissed, since this is a violation of their right to a speedy trial.

Contact a Hartford Criminal Defense Attorney

It is important to protect defendants’ rights and make sure trials are fair. As ongoing delays affect the justice system in Connecticut, defendants will want to be sure they are taking the right steps to protect their rights. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can provide the defense you need, and we will work with you to help you determine how to proceed during your case. Contact our Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer at 860-290-8690 to schedule your free consultation today.

Sources:

https://www.courant.com/coronavirus/hc-news-coronavirus-connecticut-jury-trials-20201120-20201123-o45ruc4h4jdxpkrutaymfuj3gm-story.html

https://www.nacdl.org/Document/CriminalCourtReopeningAndCOVID-19?_zs=GMEgM1&_zl=dP546

https://www.thenationalherald.com/archive_general_news_usa/arthro/jury_duty_no_thanks_say_many_forcing_trials_to_be_delayed-1268968/

https://www.law.com/ctlawtribune/2020/11/25/lawyers-want-connecticut-courthouse-shut-down-after-reports-of-covid-19-infections/

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