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Colorado courts urged to delay jury trials for COVID-19 safety

CO Attorney General Phil Weiser asks for delays
Posted: 5:26 PM, Mar 24, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-24 19:40:20-04
News5''s Patrick Nelson speaks with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser about COVID-19 concerns

COLORADO SPRINGS — Judges in courtrooms across the State of Colorado are having to make tough decisions, weighing speedy trial deadlines and the safety of their courtrooms during a pandemic. Plus. what about jury duty? News5 spoke with a local attorney and Colorado's attorney general to get those answers.

With Coronavirus concerns still very real in the State of Colorado the attorney general is urging courtrooms across the state to do whatever they can to delay or reschedule jury trials to protect everyone in the courtrooms.

"I recognize that some people have claimed there is some uncertainty here. We are going to be going to the legislature to address that uncertainty. In the meantime, my advice to courts is don't put people in danger and you have the basis to go ahead and defer any trial rights and use the exceptional circumstances as the reason for doing so," said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Steps are already being taken to limit the foot traffic at the El Paso County courthouse and Colorado Springs area attorney Stephen Longo agrees trying to get jury trials done inside these small courtrooms would be a hazard.

"There's absolutely no way to get that amount of people into a single courtroom at the same time and still be at your six feet for social distancing," said Longo.

In a video conference call with the attorney general he told News5 this isn't just about public health, but also public safety.

"We should not be holding jury trials during this sensitive time," said Weiser. "We should be deferring them and we need to make sure we don't allow the speedy trial statute to be used in a, in my mind, improper way to actually let people go because the trials don't happen within a specific period of time."

In courtrooms across the State of Colorado prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges will have to work together to make the decision.

"It is ultimately up to the trial judge to either grant that continuance, or extension or not. So, I think what you'll be seeing is a lot of agreement between the parties, a lot of motions between the prosecution and frankly a lot of the judges granting those motions," said Longo.

If you do happen to get that jury summons in the mail attorneys tell News5 you should reach out to the court and find out if you can get your jury duty delayed. The most important step is to follow up with the court and make sure they are taking steps to protect you.