The coronavirus pandemic has impacted state and local government in many ways, including the justice system. Closing the courts was a necessary step to help protect the spread of infection. But it has also led to a tremendous backlog of cases, leaving many wondering how the courts will ever catch up.
The Texas Supreme Court has ordered that no jury trials or jury selections can take place before Aug. 1. However, hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been increasing, leading Governor Greg Abbott to put plans for reopening the state on pause. It’s possible that the reopening of courts could be delayed even further.
Trying to find a way to move forward
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are natural rivals who are always on opposite sides of a case. But they agree on one thing – “the system can’t handle much more of a back-up and they have got to find a way to get things moving.”
“We’re at a snail’s pace,” Harris County prosecutor, JoAnne Musick told KPRC 2. “Sadly, crime appears to be up. We’re getting more and more calls, more and more arrests, more and more charges filed right now.”
Police are still making arrests, and defense attorneys are still getting ready to fight for the rights of the accused. At The Webb Firm, P.C., we have continued to help new and existing clients who have been charged with a crime. Our attorneys talk with clients over the phone and offer consultations via Zoom video conferencing.
The pros and cons of taking precautions
People charged with a crime deserve aggressive representation. Our firm helps clients navigate the legal system for the best outcome. Depending on the case, that can sometimes be a lengthy process – one that is about to get much longer.
Even when courts do reopen for trials, there are many issues that still need to be worked out which could also cause delays.
One is social distancing. It’s an important practice to help protect people but creates some problems. Having a private discussion with a client is difficult when you have to stand 6 feet apart.
Another is the issue of juries. Musick says more than a thousand people can be called in for jury duty each day, making social distancing a challenge.
Another issue is masks. They help prevent the spread of infection. But both prosecutors and defense attorneys say it makes their jobs much harder.
“You want to be able to see and read faces and you’re asking your jury to do the same of witnesses,” Musick said.
Ready to fight for you no matter what
The court system is still exploring other ways to move forward in the era of COVID-19. Collin County District Court has tried holding a jury trial using Zoom. As reported by Reuters, “more than two dozen potential jurors logged in by smartphone, laptop and tablet for jury selection, which was streamed live on YouTube.”
Whether videoconferencing is part of the equation or not, things will definitely be different when jury trials resume. But our commitment to providing an aggressive defense will not change. If you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s important to contact an experienced Conroe criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact us online or call our office at 936-647-3352 for a free and confidential consultation.