Huntsville attorney weighs in on jury trial suspension

Jury trials on hold again in Madison County

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Madison County jury trials are once again suspended, this time for the rest of the year.

Madison County Presiding Circuit Judge Ruth Ann Hall said jury trials resumed not too long ago with new precautions in place to protect jurors after being put on hold because of COVID-19. On Tuesday, her office announced they are on hold again.

Judge Hall said when her office decided to initially start jury trials a few months ago, she promised the community she would lookout for their safety, and that’s what she said she is doing now with the suspension.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable asking large groups of people to come to the courthouse because their safety is my top priority,” Judge Hall said.

According to the judge, this decision comes after speaking with Dr. Scott Harris and other judges earlier this week about the rising numbers, and factoring in how the holidays could impact those numbers.

“I needed to take that extra step and say okay until we get past the holidays and we see better what the numbers are the best thing to do is to delay it,” Judge Hall said.

When asked if this could infringe on due process rights for the people awaiting trial, Judge Hall said no.

“I don’t think a delay of a month is too much to ask of everybody,” she said.

Meanwhile, Attorney Mark McDaniel commends the decision.

“You don’t want a jury that’s worried about catching some disease,” McDaniel said. “Their concentration should be on that case. You’ve got a person whose life or freedom is on the line.”

Copyright 2020 WAFF. All rights reserved.