The spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has shut down several places and organizations, including public schools, professional sports leagues, and bars and restaurants. But how will the COVID-19 pandemic impact courts in Massachusetts? What will happen to your case? This blog post will try to answer these questions.
First, it is important to remember that the situation is very fluid. Everyday the government is announcing new changes to stop the spread of the virus. In a month, a week, or even a day from now there could be new news. The best way to stay ahead of any updates is to keep up to date on local news. The official website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a good place to start.
Will there be court closures and delays?
On March 15, 2020 Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order banning gatherings of more than 25 people in the state. In response to this declaration, all district courts in Massachusetts will remain closed from March 16, 2020 to March 17, 2020.
During this time, leaders will begin to review emergency plans and set up new ways of reducing the number of people entering courthouses. These changes are already seeing court dates postponed and courts providing more limited access to their facilities.
How will jury service and courthouse entry change?
According to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the following is a list of the latest updates:
- Both civil and criminal jury empanelments will be postponed to no earlier than April 21, 2020. This means that people will not be called to service in a jury until at least April 21, 2020. This includes grand juries. However, this does not apply to people currently serving in juries. For a defendant, trials scheduled to begin before this date will be postponed until at least April 21.
- People with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be able to enter a courthouse or any other state court facility. This includes probation offices. The order goes into effect as long as the SJC determines this is necessary for public health.
- Probation warrant expiration times have been extended to March 18, 2020 at 11 am. That is, until the day courts are expected to reopen.
- Modifications or suspensions to compliance with certain conditions of probation or pretrial release. Do not assume you qualify. Speak with your criminal defense attorney on the latest status of any and all agreements you have made with a court.
Once again, what we have listed above may very well change as time goes on and the virus spreads or recedes. Follow the news, keep up with government announcements, and do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense lawyer with questions about criminal law.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN ARRESTED OR HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT COVID-19 AND THE LAW, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.