ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — Jury trials in the state of Maryland scheduled for this Wednesday through Feb. 8 will be postponed after the chief judge for Maryland’s Court of Appeals handed down an order in response to rising COVID-19 cases across the state.
Some of those trials were delayed the last time the state paused on jury trials earlier on in the pandemic.
Prosecutors say their next step is telling victims and witnesses they’ll have to wait a little longer before justice is served.
“There’s sexual assaults, child abuse cases. You get a witness geared up to go to trial. The fact that it gets delayed, there’s an enormous emotional impact for witnesses who are forced to wait yet again,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy on Wednesday.
“We have families of homicide victims who have not yet had their day in court, so to speak. Who haven’t had a chance at justice, so it’s going to be difficult for them to hear this,” said Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith.
The courts are still catching up on cases from the last time the state paused jury trials.
“We’re already booked throughout the rest of the year with cases that have already been continued. It’s going to be very much justice delayed,” said Smith.
McCarthy says those delays trickle down to the corrections and detention systems, too.
“Most people are out on bond, the vast majority wait for their trials out in the community. Some people commit such egregious acts, and we keep them locked up. So, your prison population grows,” said McCarthy.
As for defendants and their right to a speedy trial, there are provisions laid out in the order that extends the amount of time allowed to lapse before the start of a jury trial.