COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the criminal justice system. Lengthy court delays have raised concerns over speedy trial rights and crowded dockets, prompting jurisdictions to consider how a volume of jury trials can be scheduled in the midst of uncertainty with the pandemic. However, necessary measures to protect the health and safety of all parties and the public – such as social distancing in courtrooms, alternative physical spaces, and even virtual hearings – raise challenges of their own. The process of adapting to change implicates constitutional and civil rights and thus prosecutorial decision-making within the necessary constitutional framework. With little time to accommodate sweeping change, prosecutors are challenged to assume leadership in the ongoing collaboration with judicial officers, defense attorneys, and other professionals to help shape thoughtful strategies for criminal proceedings during our “new normal.”
This webinar addresses the potential impact of pandemic safety measures on criminal jury trials and strategies for protecting the integrity of the proceedings. Presenters will discuss strategies for triaging delayed cases; considerations of constitutional rights, including the 6th amendment right to a speedy and public trial, the 6th amendment right to confrontation, and the 1st amendment freedom of the press; the use of juror questionnaires as a way to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 during jury selection; and methods for adapting prosecution strategies to virtual platforms.