The onset of the novel COVID-19 pandemic forced a halt to the right to a speedy trial as well as several cases being heard throughout the county, creating a backlog of hearings for attorneys.
Now, legal professionals are gearing up to take on the extra cases and learn what the new norm will be.
“The justice system is treading water but right now we’re waiting for the tidal wave of the backlog of cases to hit our shores,” Jerry Vander Sanden, Linn County Attorney, said.
Vander Sanden said there are hundreds of cases on his office’s plate right now. Many of those cases will be decided without a jury but he said about 2 or 3 percent of criminal cases will still need one. That’s means a lot more people would need to be in the courtroom.
“Everyone has their right to a trial with the jury of their peers,” Vander Sanden said. “We can’t ask people to come to the courthouse unless we can ensure their health and their safety.”
The date currently set to restart civil and criminal non-jury trials is sometime in June, with criminal jury trials expecting to start the following month. While Vander Sanden and his team work on those, a defense attorney said he will probably have to wait on a number of his cases until the court starts to catch up.
Read the full story at KCRG.