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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.

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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.

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Connecticut criminal defense lawyer coronavirus COVID-19For the past couple of months, the world has been battling COVID-19, a virus that led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic for the first time in history. Worldwide cases have reached more than 600,000, while the number of cases in the United States has topped 160,000. COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is a disease that causes respiratory illness, characterized by flu-like symptoms along with a cough, chest tightness, and/or shortness of breath. Most people recover from the disease without complications, but those with underlying health conditions or those who are over the age of 60 are more likely to develop serious complications.

The spread of COVID-19 across the U.S. has prompted many state and local officials to halt non-essential business operations. Some locations have issued stay-at-home orders, prohibiting residents from leaving their homes except for essential activities. This has led to a change in how even the most basic of operations are run, including how the court systems will operate during this trying time. If you have an outstanding criminal or civil case, you should speak to an attorney to determine how you should proceed.

Changes in Court Cases

While some of Connecticut’s courts are still open, they are operating at a limited capacity and only conducting essential business. As per Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7G, the courts will only schedule and hear matters that are considered to be “Priority 1 Business Functions.” These include:

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