Updated January 7, 2021
Are Courts Open During the Pandemic?
As of this writing on November 30, 2020, Washington State has recently seen a second surge in COVID-19 cases. The resurgence of COVID-19 has prompted a response from governmental officials to shut down many activities in the state. Regarding the justice system, courthouses across the state have temporarily postponed all jury trials. This has now extended to our local Clark and Cowlitz Counties.
If jury trials have been postponed, what will happen to my case?
The courts have not entirely closed their doors. Courts are conducting business through video conference software. For example, the Clark County Superior Court, Clark County District Court, Cowlitz County Superior Court, Cowlitz County District Court, Battle Ground Municipal Court, and Camas/Washougal Municipal Courts have all taken action to limit the spread of COVID-19 by implementing ZOOM hearings to conduct most court proceedings. Through ZOOM, the good news is that you likely need not physically attend court to address your case. With a good attorney, you can get your case closed favorably without ever having to come to court. Your attorney may be able to get your case dismissed or resolved in some other favorable manner by ZOOM. If you are unfamiliar with ZOOM, you can learn more about it here.
Jury Trials Temporarily Suspended
The one exception is trials. A person charged with a crime has a constitutional right to defend his or her case through a trial by a jury of his or her peers. Jury trials require in-person attendance of the defendant, the jurors, the attorneys, and the witnesses. Because of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the courts have temporarily suspended jury trials. This happened earlier in 2020, and the courts were able to eventually resume jury trials by the middle of the year. To ensure everyone’s safety, temperature checks were taken at the court house doors. Moreover, everyone inside the building has to adhere to a strict protocol of social distancing, wearing a mask over their mouth and nose, and using hand sanitizer among other things. Jurors were distanced at least 6 feet apart, and plexi-glass divided many of the participants in the courtroom. When the courts resume trials, you can expect that the court will implement every possible safety precaution.
The following courts have temporarily suspended jury trials.
- Clark County Superior – Trials Suspended Until February 8, 2021.
- Cowlitz County Superior – Trial Suspended Until 12/31/20. Read More
- Clark County District – Trials Suspended Until February 8, 2021
- Battle Ground Municipal – Trials Suspended Until January 31, 2021
As we continue to monitor COVID-19 activity in our community, we will keep you updated with any changes in the local courts’ responses to COVID-19.
Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you need legal assistance for your criminal case, call our office. Our team works hard to ensure that our clients come first. Attorney Tom Carley is a skilled and experienced Vancouver criminal defense lawyer and DUI attorney who understands not only the legal system, but understands the local courts. We have assisted thousands of individuals and can help you. We will walk you through the ZOOM process and assist you in getting it set up on your phone, tablet or computer. Email us or call today (360) 726-3571.