As the State and Superior Courts of Georgia began to summon jurors for jury duty, several questions will arise. What will this look like and how will it affect your case?
First, there will still be fewer jury trials than before as the courts continue to figure out how to safely bring people into the courthouses and ultimately in to individual courtrooms. Judges will be using more digital technology for the attorneys to present evidence, and there will likely be plexi-glass dividers between individual jurors, around the witness stand, the Judge's bench, and the attorneys. Masks will be required, but witnesses may be able to remove their mask while testifying. Some courthouses might only have 1 or 2 courtrooms set up or built to accomodate the new procedures, so fewer jury trials will be able to take place. Courts will also be more forgiving of jurors who do not feel comfortable being summoned amongst large groups for jury duty.
More importantly for people charged with crimes: How will this affect your case? For some cases, it will force the prosecuting attorney to come to a resolution on cases that have been sitting dormant for over a year. In some circumstances, prosecutors might be willing to resolve cases more favorably than before due to the backlog of cases that has built up over the past year. For other prosecutors, they might not change their perspective at all. Some might say, "if you want a jury trial, you'll just have to wait your turn. But I'm not changing my position on the case." Defendants who are sitting in jail with no bond awaiting trial will likely get priority over those defendants not in custody for purposes of scheduling. And Judges will likely be more demanding than before with the parties to truly be ready for trial when their case is called in for actual trial.
Also, Judges might still handle trial calendars and calendar calls virtually via Zoom or other platforms, rather than bringing people to court in person. As time progresses and the Courts actually go through trials under their new protocols, the judicial system should return to a more "normal" function and be able to resolve more cases.
If you're charged with a criminal offense in the metro Atlanta area, feel free to contact Kyle Jarzmik at 678-967-0197.