David B. Harrison
Jury Trials during pandemic and Speedy Trial Issues
In August 2020 some Colorado Courts are going to start trying to have jury trials again - something they have not done since at least mid-March 2020. Courts have created plans for social distancing, soemtime plexiglass barriers between jurors, between the defense attorney and their client, between witnesses and the courtroom, etc. Whether masks are worn while witnesses testify and jurors are questioned for qualifications, remains an open question. Suffice it to say that in addition to the many many issues that come up while a trial is being prepared for and held, the current virus crisis adds a whole level of challenges not known before. It is hard to imagine a person charged with a crime navigating these issues themselves.
In addition, the issue of 'speedy trial' comes up in almost all cases now. Trials are supposed to be held within 6 months of when a person pleads not gulty. Some rules have been passed that will allow additional time under the pandemic circumstances. But this issue has to be handled properly in order to have a chance of benefiting the defendant.
All in all, courtroom matters are substantially more complex than they were before the COVID-19 crisis and it is strobngly advised that a person not handle criminal cases on their own anymore - at least seek a consultation with a lawyer to help you properly prepare.