Jury trial resumption addressed by Fairfax criminal lawyer
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Jury trial resumption is becoming more common says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Jury trial resumption (JTR) will be more common as we get farther from the darkest days of Covid-19 and further along with getting more groups of people eligible for coronavirus vaccination. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that this county has one of Virginia’s busiest criminal and civil court dockets, thereby being able to take a leadership role in resuming jury trials in a way that provides virus safety for jurors while having them focused on the trial (rather than distracted by their health) in order to fulfill their oaths to pay attention to proceedings.
What does JTR look like in Fairfax criminal court?
On February 8, 2021, the Fairfax County, Virginia, Circuit Court chief judge issued the court’s Third Transition Plan (TTP) for jury trial resumption. The TTP notes that the Virginia Supreme Court approved the Fairfax Circuit Court Plan for Resuming Jury Trials, which was resubmitted in mid-September 2020. Three courtrooms are designated for criminal jury trials in this county. I already see that this Circuit Court generally is not scheduling criminal jury trials before 2022 for non-incarcerated defendants. That provides both speedy trial challenges and defensive opportunities for criminal defendants. The defensive opportunities include that judges may be less flexible about granting trial postponements without particularly good reasons (which of course applies to both parties, but it is more often the prosecutor who needs witnesses at all, and can suffer if denied a witness-related postponement). Another opportunity is that by the time more jury trials resume in 2022, Fairfax prosecutors might once again be prosecuting most misdemeanor cases, where they are currently handling a small universe of them, and therefore be available for possibly favorable case negotiations that would not have been available otherwise.
Do my witnesses need to know that the court might reset my jury trial date due to Covid-19 rescheduling?
Fairfax criminal and DUI defendants need to have their witnesses informed that jury trial resumption might hit rescheduling snags due to Covid-19. As the TTP says, “the Court may further postpone jury trials consistent with the then-state of the judicial [coronavirus-related] emergency.”
What are the Fairfax Circuit Court procedures for non-jury trial criminal proceedings?
Non-jury criminal trials in the Fairfax Circuit Court will involve priority scheduling for felony, DUI, and Class 1 and 2 misdemeanor cases, meaning that Class 3 and 4 misdemeanors (never jailable) and traffic infractions will get less priority for scheduling. Bench trials in Fairfax can take place earlier than jury trials under the jury trial resumption. For sentencing and probation violation proceedings, non-incarcerated defendants must appear in person, but the court may require that incarcerated defendants appear remotely (to limit the spread of Covid-19 out of and back into the jail). Lawyers and witnesses are permitted to appear remotely for sentencing and probation violation hearing proceedings. However, no lawyer should appear remotely if their client must appear in person, and I prefer appearing in person any time I am endeavoring to persuade people; a flat Webex screen does not replace that interaction and does not give me a complete chance to know what is happening in the courtroom. I have already stated my aversion to allowing witnesses to testify remotely and/or masked against my Virginia criminal defense clients.
Fairfax criminal lawyer is located across the street from the county courthouse, pursuing your best defense against Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor prosecutions. Learn what Jon Katz can do for your defense by calling 703-383-1100 to schedule a free in-person consultation about your court-pending case.