Jury trials to resume Nov. 2 for misdemeanors, not felony trials until 2021 - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, October 25, 2020
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Jury trials to resume Nov. 2 for misdemeanors, not felony trials until 2021

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Chief Justice Bolger has issued Special Order 8194, allowing misdemeanor jury trials to resume Nov. 2. However, the suspension of in-person felony criminal and civil trials remains until Jan. 4, 2021, although a presiding judge may allow a felony or civil jury trial to proceed in exceptional circumstances.

Bolger will review whether to continue the in-person felony and civil trial suspension on approximately Nov. 20.

The suspension does not apply to proceedings in which videoconference trials have been approved, such as presumptive death trials.

Jury trials have been suspended in Alaska since mid-March; some proceedings take place via video conference.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Looks like the Sixth Amendment to America’s Constitution, the one starting with, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,…”
    .
    may have been cancelled simply by judicial whim.
    .
    One sincerely hopes Alaska’s chapter of the ACLU brings this problem to federal court as a violation of Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights, China flu hoax be damned.

  • How can this continuing delay of jury trials conform to the Sixth Amendment and the principle of habeus corpus? What happens with those accused of a felony crime in the meantime. Are they kept in jail for half a year before trial, or are they released back into our community, possibly to disappear or reoffend? Can they beat the rap by arguing that their case is compromised by the delay they did not cause, no matter what felony they are accused of? This is a mess! We can shop at Costco, but we cannot conduct speedy trials? Really?

    • They have been doing trials by zoom, same as every other state.

      • Greg,

        You should be more clear that your comment is a joke about how we’re using Zoom in place of actual meetings. Someone reading this might think this is actually happening.

  • There is a serious legal issue presented by this administrative order. There is the right to a “speedy trial” under our Rules and as required by our constitution. A person charged with a serious crime who is unable to raise bail and languishing in jail waiting for trial is denied the right to a speedy trial by this order. Our rules require the trial to take place within 120 days from time of arrest. Many defendants who are not in custody awaiting trial benefit from delaying the trial. Memories fade, witnesses go away etc. But defendants who want to promptly present their defense to a jury and who are in custody unable to raise bail are penalized by this administrative order from a single judge who denies them a speedy trial. This is a broad reaching order that does not take into consideration individual cases. And if tested, could result in a court finding that a person denied a speedy trial
    his his constitutional rights denied. It needs to be tested.

  • Rule of law is dead in this country, prove me wrong.

  • Well my right to a speedy trial has had nothing to do with covid, I’m on day 367 and waiting, waiting and more waiting! On top of it all my movement as an individual have been limited by pretrial. No trouble for over 25+;years, and because 1 (one) person said “so” I’m still waiting! It can happen to you!

  • Part of the Democrat plan. COVID 19 is the Democrats “Swiss Army Knife!” They can use it for all kinds of things. Shutting things down and isolating people, keep our kids out of school, destroy small businesses, rig elections, the list goes on. Just like all the little attachments that come out of this little knife.

    • Good point Jim. Shutting down trial by jury is justice denied. Locking legislative chambers and excluding public input and or outrage is no different. Shunting medical facilities in expectation of a : crisis” that never materialized was denial of health care and prolonged suffering to many. This covid thing has given power to many petty tyrants.

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