Hundreds of jury trials continue to be backlogged
“Those who are not out on bond are sitting in jail.”
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The COVID-19 pandemic continues to build a significant backlog of jury trials in the court systems, Putting you first KMVT investigated to explain what this means for those waiting in jail, and the possible relief on the way.
While hundreds of jury trials are backlogged, courts are not completely shut down.
“We are still providing our statutory and constitutional obligations and serving the public, said Judge Eric Wildman an administrative judge for the 5th judicial district.
In the Twin Falls County courts in the 5th judicial district, almost all work have been able to continue to be done in new ways with proceedings being held remotely through zoom.
“All-in-all it has worked pretty well,” said Wildman “It is not perfect for every type of hearing.”
Hearings such as jury trials are the one thing courts can’t do right now. In the 5th district from March of last year till Thursday only one jury trial has been held.
“Defendants have rights to have their cases heard,” Said Twin Falls County prosecutor Grant Loebs. “The public obviously has an interest in getting cases moved through the system so that people are held responsible when they are found guilty, so it is a huge problem.”
The felony caseload for Twin Falls is the largest in the district with more than 200 jury trials backlogged.
“Those who are not out on bond are sitting in jail,” said Wildman.
Relief could be on the way. Judge Wildman said in the next week the Supreme Court should be issuing an order to the courts for further direction starting March 1. The direction would be on the handling of court proceedings. Although it is still unknown if that order will allow them to begin jury trials in the near future.
“It would be nice to start processing the backlog,” Wildman said. “At some point not have the same safety protocols in place.”
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