How Will Connecticut’s Judicial Branch Proceed With Reopening Courts?

 Posted on July 21,2020 in Criminal Law

East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

Since March, states across the country have implemented varying degrees of protective measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont issued various executive orders shutting down many businesses across the state, including government operations, such as judicial matters. Connecticut courts have only been conducting what they consider to be Priority 1 business, such as certain criminal arraignments and emergency child custody matters.

Recently, a handbook was published on the guidelines and procedures to be followed for remote hearings conducted within the Connecticut judicial system. The goal of the courts is to gradually increase the amount of work that is taken on by court staff and attorneys through virtual means for the foreseeable future. While utilizing the technology that exists to conduct court business will help get through a backlog of cases, there have been concerns about issues that remote court hearings may pose.

Possible Barriers to Remote Court Hearings

With the pandemic far from over, Connecticut courts are just now starting to take on more work that became backlogged when just Priority 1 functions were being conducted. Now, with procedures in place to conduct remote court hearings, the courts expect to gradually take on more cases in the coming weeks. However, remote hearings may be potentially problematic:

  • Technical difficulties: The biggest concern for most people is simply just any of the parties involved having technical difficulties on the day of the scheduled hearing. There are many components involved in conducting a remote hearing and they must all be working properly and in harmony to successfully conduct an admissible hearing.

  • Confusing evidence procedures: Another concern that was brought up is that of evidence and how it is to be introduced on a virtual platform. The handbook outlines the rules for admitting evidence to the court, but if those rules are not followed, the evidence cannot be admitted, which can pose issues for certain cases.

  • Unequal access to technology and legal counsel: Another major concern that has been expressed is the access that everyone would have to be able to participate in remote hearings. Although many individuals have access to the Internet and electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones, not all people do. Some low-income citizens do not have these luxuries and may need to travel to the courthouse to use the devices provided to them, which can cause hardship. In addition, the same low-income citizens are also more likely not to have legal counsel or an attorney to help guide them through the remote hearing process.

Contact an East Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney

Life, as we knew it before the pandemic began, is gone and replaced with it are safety measures and precautions for even the simplest of things, like grocery shopping. When it comes to the Connecticut criminal justice system, remote hearings will be held for the foreseeable future. If you have been charged with any criminal offense, you should speak to a knowledgeable Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we will help you form a solid defense for any criminal charge you may be facing, whether that be through in-person or remote means. To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 860-290-8690.




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