Louisiana Supreme Court Halts Civil and Criminal Jury Trials until March 1st
The Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered all criminal and civil jury trials to be halted until March 1st due to the pandemic. Last spring court proceedings were put on hold at the beginning of the pandemic. Loyola University Law Professor Dane Ciolino said the delay is not without repercussions.
“As to criminal cases this is going to cause people to sit in jail longer than they otherwise than would, as to civil cases, cases that normally would settle as trial dates approach will not settle,” said Ciolino.
Ciolino said this is yet another unavoidable pandemic problem and will cause ongoing lawsuits to remain unresolved.
“It’s very difficult to conduct a jury trial with social distancing measures in place, so the court’s order is understandable,” said Ciolino.
While some court proceedings, for example, pre-trial hearings can be done virtually, when it comes to jury proceedings, Ciolino said that takes on a different set of issues that are not ideal during a pandemic.
“What gets difficult when you’re dealing with an evidentiary hearing, where you have documents you need to hand to witnesses and to show to the finder of fact, and particularly when you have to deal with jurors,” said Ciolino.
Ciolino said while the pandemic is causing all kinds of social problems the effort to get justice in both the civil and criminal arena is yet another one.
(Story written by Brooke Thorington/Louisiana Radio Network)