Although the disruptions to our legal system because of the COVID pandemic continue, there is progress being made in re-opening the judicial system safely. In the past week, I have become aware that in many counties in Alabama, there will soon be jury trials with steps taken to ensure proper social distancing both during jury selection as well as the trial itself. In the Federal Court for the Middle District of Alabama, a jury trial was held this week, which will likely serve as a “test run” for future jury terms. We have taken part in a live evidentiary hearing in Federal Court before a Magistrate judge, and everything went smoothly as expected, although precautions such as plexiglass partitions and face covering requirements were in place.
At Skier & Associates, we have submitted the materials to the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles for two clients with hearings scheduled the week of August 17. Because the Board is not holding live hearings, these clients were required to submit their argument in advance of the hearing date. I have been critical of this decision in the past. We now understand that the Pardon and Parole Board hopes to begin live hearings once again in October of this year. We hope this plan comes to pass, as not only do applicants deserve to be heard, but on a personal level we miss presenting our clients’ cases in a live setting.
At long last, we are starting to see the judicial system shake off these delays. We won’t be back to full speed anytime soon, but those clients of ours who are awaiting their day in Court deserve to be heard and deserve expeditious handling of their matters. We take it as a positive sign that judges and administrators seem to be trying out new techniques and strategies that serve the dual purpose of moving cases through the system while at the same time ensuring the safety of all those involved with the cases.