GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The coronavirus pandemic is weighing heavily on the scales of justice.
In-person proceedings at the Marshall County Courthouse came to an abrupt stop in March.
Three months later, the court system is attempting to catch up. Circuit Judge Chris Able said it’s a work in progress.
“We had a backlogged of cases that came along with that. Even now we’re not back to 100 percent and we have opened some proceedings more probably on the criminal side than the civil side. On the civil side, a lot of people are not comfortable coming to court and we’re being pretty lenient on that sense and the criminal side they have constitutional rights and they need their day in court,” said Able.
To help reduce the spread, county officials are limiting people access inside the courthouse.
“When a person’s case gets called, say they go to a plea today or something of that nature then we will get the contact information from the family from outside and invite them in so they can be a part of the proceeding, but we just don’t have the room for them to sit there all day,” said Able.
Currently, jury trials cannot begin until mid September.Judge Able said the court is developing a process where people who are summoned can register online.
“This may in fact help and this may be the only way we get back to jury trials this year simply because even with a normal panel we may have 50 to 60 percent show up and return for a panel and now with COVID-19 a lot less people will show up,” said Able.
Jury trials in Marshall County are scheduled to resume on Sept. 28.