Jury Trials Coming Back To El Paso County Courthouse
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything normal and routine down, we've been getting used to the "new normal". School, shopping, dining out at a restaurant - it's all completely changed. One of the other things that has changed is the way justice is served. For months there have been Zoom hearings and trials in the civil courts at the El Paso County Courthouse, but in order to not violate someone's right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury, as is guaranteed in the Sixth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, courts across the country have had to come up with some way to hold jury trials.
I spoke with a criminal defense attorney who said a jury trial via Zoom would be a difficult. You wouldn't be able to prevent someone who isn't on the jury from listening in and possibly swaying their opinion on the trial. You couldn't prevent someone's internet from dropping them during the trial and having to go over information to bring a juror back up to speed on what they missed, and trying to seat a jury, which is already a special little nightmare that most of us know about having gone through jury duty, would be unbelievably difficult online.
So how will the El Paso County Courthouse handle this? Well, they're going to reopen the Courthouse to jury selection and jury trials in October. The first jury trials to take place in six months will happen on October 9 and October 14. The trials are expected to last only a couple of days and officials say more complex trials will not happen anytime soon.
Everyone will have to follow Courthouse protocols will include temperature checks if you get called for jury duty and having to answer questions about your general health. Only four people at a time will be allowed on the elevators, you will have to observe social distancing, and of course, wear a facemask.