Tamburino Talks Law: Q&A "How has COVID-19 Impacted the Court System"

The Covid-19 crisis has caused many changes in our court system. Almost all civil cases and out-of-custody (meaning that the defendant is not in jail) criminal cases have been continued well into May or June. In-custody (meaning the defendant remains in jail during the process) cases are still being heard in court because of certain constitutional rights to specific hearings within specific timeframes. But even some in-custody cases have had their jury trials continued for a short period of time. Additionally, some court appearances are being conducted via video platforms like Zoom.

Arrests are still being made by police and many people who are arrested are not released from the jail until after they appear in front of a judge. Those appearances are called arraignments or first appearances, and they usually occur within 36 hours of an arrest. Bail and/or conditions of release are also still being set on cases, and most people charged with non-personal crimes are being released pending a court date.

Attorneys are still allowed to visit people in the jails, except now they can only do “non-contact” visits, meaning the attorney and the client communicate through a glass partition or video. Also, anyone arrested has a right to contact an attorney as soon as possible, and those calls are still being accomplished at jails and police stations throughout the state.

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