criminal justice COVID-19

COVID-19 PROMPTS PRISONER RELEASES, COURT CLOSURES, SUSPENSION OF CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

 

Update: All jury trials in Calif. Superior courts have been delayed for 60 days, per an order issued today by California's Chief Justice and Chair of the Judicial Council

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Scales of justice, Creative Commons via Bing

March 24, 2020 (San Diego) – The COVID-19 emergency is having major impacts on the criminal justice system. 

Locally, the Superior Court is shut down for all but emergency procedures.  Trials are suspended. Public defender lawyers are barred from visiting defendants in county jails.  The Sheriff and District Attorney have announced plans to release some prisoners awaiting arraignment and some medically vulnerable inmates.

 At the federal level, the Department of Justice has asked Congress to grant federal judges  sweeping new powers to detain people indefinitely during emergencies even if they have not yet been charged with a crime, halt court proceedings, and prohibit anyone with COVID-19 from seeking asylum in the U.S., among other changes that concern civil liberties experts. The Trump administration has also indicated it will arrest anyone who crosses the border seeking asylum.


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