March 13, 2020

St. Joseph County Courts Suspend Rule That Guarantees Speedy Trial Rights Due To COVID-19

Original story from   WVPE-FM

Article origination WVPE-FM
Justin Hicks/IPB News

Justin Hicks/IPB News

St. Joseph County Courts have suspended a criminal rule that guarantees people certain speedy trial rights until April 20 due to COVID-19.

Civil jury trials in St. Joseph County are postponed until after April 20. Defendants who have not been released on bond are being held in the county jail.

Jeff Kimmell is a criminal defense lawyer in South Bend. He said this was a difficult decision for the courts.

“The courts are concerned about public health. They’re also concerned about fast and timely administration of justice," Kimmell said. "Unfortunately, getting both of those things protected and accomplished are at odds right now.”

Kimmell said this will also change the way court hearings are done for the near future. They will switch to remote communication when possible. He said these steps taken by the court system are necessary.

“There’s not a way to have a jury trial without getting a bunch of people together in a confined space for a long period of time.”

Kimmell said he wouldn’t be surprised if other courts follow suit.

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

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