What Are the Drawbacks of Virtual Jury Trials in Criminal Cases?

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East Hartford, CT criminal defense attorney

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been felt by nearly every single person living in the United States at one point since the start of it all back in March. Even if you never actually got the coronavirus yourself, you likely had to alter your usual routine in some way because of the pandemic. For a length of time, Connecticut’s judicial system was running on minimum operations with the majority of courthouses closed to the general public to adhere to the Governor’s statewide shutdown order. As the courthouses have begun to reopen and the judicial system has begun to increase its caseload, many people are wondering when and how criminal jury trials will proceed. In many jurisdictions, cases that do not involve juries, such as divorces and other civil cases, have been successfully settled using virtual means. Some have wondered if that is paving the way for the inevitable: virtual criminal jury trials.

Issues with Virtual Criminal Jury Trials

Many of a courthouse’s day-to-day operations are not conducive to a post-pandemic world -- at least not yet. Now that the majority of Connecticut’s courthouses are open for staff and visitors, one of the only things that officials are scrambling to figure out is what to do about criminal jury trials. The possibility of virtual criminal jury trials taking place in Connecticut is becoming increasingly larger with each passing day of the pandemic. It is clear that we have the technology and the capability of conducting virtual jury trials, but virtual jury trials come with issues and downfalls of their own, such as:

  • Virtual courtrooms remove the physical aspect from the situation: Much of the impact of the speeches given by the prosecutor and defense attorney is lost when the speech is given over virtual means. There is a human component that is only present when you can look someone face-to-face and accentuate your speech with small physical gestures to help prove your case.

  • Constitutional rights are likely to be challenged: The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees certain rights to those who face criminal prosecution. To conduct virtual jury trials, some of those rights would have to be waived by the defendant; however, there is a high chance of appeal in the future.

  • Jury composition will be affected: Another concern is that virtual jury proceedings will affect the composition of the jury itself. If trials were held virtually, jury members would be limited to those who own electronic devices, have a reliable Internet connection, and understand how to work the technology used to conduct the trial.

  • Technological difficulties could interrupt trial proceedings: Though technological difficulties can occur at any time to anyone, they can be detrimental to a criminal trial. Technology can be unpredictable sometimes, but this poses unique issues for criminal justice officials. 

Contact an East Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney Today

In most aspects, the Connecticut judicial system is up and running again. However, the criminal justice system has taken a particularly harsh hit from the pandemic, as no jury trials have been permitted to be conducted for months. If you have been charged with a crime in Connecticut, you should bring your case to the knowledgeable attorneys at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC. Our skilled Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyers have experience handling most types of cases and can help you with your criminal charge. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.

 

Sources:

https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/2020/09/04/this-big-law-litigator-has-real-doubts-about-virtual-jury-trials-heres-why-hes-a-skeptic/

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/will-virtual-jury-trials-be-part-new-normal-ushered-covid-19-pandemic

 

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