The Pandemic Takes A Toll On State Courts

From The Brennan Center:

While almost all state courts closed their doors to the public in March when Covid-19 began to spread across the country, several jurisdictions resumed some in-person proceedings over the summer with certain safety precautions. However, due to the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, some state courts are closing their doors again for the time being.
 
At least eight states, including TexasIndiana, and New Jersey, are opting to suspend their in-person jury trials until early next year, and at least seven states and Washington D.C. have suspended jury trials indefinitely. For example, in Utah, the state halted a pilot program to hold in person jury trials until 2021. Unlike the beginning of the pandemic, most states have not issued statewide orders regarding court operations, leaving those decisions to local jurisdictions.
 
Court administrators expect a massive backlog of cases when they eventually resume full in-person operations. For example, Texas would typically hold 186 trials a week prior to the pandemic, but there were only 50 trials held between March and September of 2020. The backlog leaves many defendants awaiting criminal trials to linger in prison, where a person is twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as compared to the general population.

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