COVID-19 halts US justice system

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    Nearly all face-to-face state court proceedings will be suspended for at least two weeks, under an order issued Friday by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

    The order, which goes into effect Monday, will temporarily suspend grand jury proceedings, jury selections and criminal and civil jury trials through March 27.

    Proceedings already underway “may proceed to completion if the presiding judge, with approval of the chief judge, determines that completion of the proceeding without delay is required by the interests of justice,” Canady wrote in the four-page order.

    Canady’s decision “is the first time a limit on face-to-face proceedings has been ordered since Florida’s state court system was unified by a constitutional amendment” in 1972, Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters said in a news release.

    The order also gives judges the authority to use remote means of conducting legal proceedings whenever possible.

    Time periods involving speedy-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile court cases are suspended from the close of business Monday until the close of business March 30.

    Canady noted in the order that “a public health emergency currently exists” in the courts system “that requires mitigation of its effects by adopting ‘social distancing’ measures meant to reduce the increase in person-to-person transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

    Read more : ABC7

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