Since December 2020, there has been a spike in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths across the country. The spike is causing some hospitals to prioritize which patients they can treat and which ones they can’t treat. To help reduce the spread of the deadly disease, the Maryland Court of Appeals announced that jury trials won’t resume until April 23, 2021.
Per the Baltimore Sun, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera announced the new order while also extending the Phase II coronavirus protection order through March 14. During Phase II, the district and circuit courts are hearing many cases (by video or telephone) and some cases in-person. During the extension of the Phase II order, the clerks’ offices throughout Maryland will stay open for emergency matters and matters where there is an appointment.
Judge Barbera stated that “The surge in COVID-19 cases during November is expected to be sustained through the winter, making it necessary for the Maryland judiciary to remain in Phase II of its operations plan.” She added that the courts will continue to monitor the pandemic to protect the safety of the judges, judiciary personnel, and the public.
The order suspending jury trials through April 23, 2021, is part of the ongoing court concern about balancing the need for prompt jury trials with protections for the public. The Maryland courts had resumed full operations (including jury trials) on October 5, 2020. As the coronavirus spread, the courts reduced the number of jury trials in November – and then suspended them in December.
Jury trials normally require that 12 jurors sit near each other while the jurors hear the evidence presented by the prosecutor and the defense lawyer. This closeness increases the risk of spreading the disease.
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our office is keeping current with how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting all aspects of the judicial process and the criminal defense process. Rest assured that Attorney Cochran is working to assert your rights to defend the charges against you, to obtain your release from jail while your case is pending, and to obtain dismissals of the criminal charges or to negotiate just plea bargains with your consent. Call us today at 410-271-1892 or fill out our contact form if you’ve been arrested or charged with any crime in or near Annapolis or Ellicott City.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.