With everyone worried about getting sick from the coronavirus, many people, both clients and non-clients, are contacting our office to ask how the virus might affect their case. Here’s a brief rundown of what we know so far.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has issued several administrative orders requiring that the courts across the state remain open to fulfill their constitutional duties. That being said, even though the courts are open, the Supreme Court has left it to the individual judges to determine how to handle the cases that are on their dockets. From the Supreme Court’s administrative orders, here is what people can expect if they have a case that is CURRENTLY active before a court.
All courts are limiting in-person, courthouse contact. Many judges are trying to use video conferencing to hold hearings and conferences; however, there are quite a few law offices that are simply not equipped to handle the use of technology. Luckily, with our clients, we’ve been able to hold multiple video and tele-conferences with judges, clients, and other people involved in our cases. For those that are not used to using technology, we’ve been able to guide them through set-up and streamline the process of communication.
Certain in-person proceedings are still going on, but they are being limited to actual parties and witnesses. The hearings that are still going on involve emergency matters, such as emergency custody proceedings, protection matters, mental health, and habeas corpus proceedings. Even then, courts are still trying to make sure that people involved in these types of cases don’t gather for long in one place. Earlier this week, I was in one court where the judge asked everyone to scatter throughout the courthouse property until a bailiff requested them.
Juries are being canceled throughout the state. What this means is that if you were scheduled for a jury trial during this time, then the cases are being postponed, at the very least until the next term of court. In Bolivar County, where our main office is located, we were originally scheduled to have three jury trials this upcoming April; however, because of the pandemic, it looks like the cases will not be tried until around six months from now.
The same goes with grand juries. For many of the clients that were wise enough to hire us early and before indictment, they do not have to worry about being indicted for at least another six months. While this does not mean that their case will necessarily go away, we anticipate that this will cause many district attorneys’ offices to reprioritize their cases, which helps us as we work towards dismissal or preparing for trial.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be posting information on our blog on how the virus might affect different aspects of various types of cases, especially criminal and personal injury cases. As we receive news from across the state concerning courts and the justice system, we’ll continue to update Facebook accordingly.
We are also doing our part to “flatten the curve” by restricting in-person meetings at our office. However, we are still hard at work on your case and are here for all of our clients, new and existing. We are using everything that modern technology has to offer to serve you during this uncertain time, including taking your phone calls, communicating via e-mail, and even scheduling video conferences. We are registered for Mississippi Electronic Courts (for select counties) and are communicating with the courts daily. We will continue to offer initial consultations, so what better time to give us a call and see if we can assist with your case?