Marquette County jury trials remain suspended

Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT
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Marquette County Prosecutor, Matt Wiese says jury trials remain suspended with no timeline to resume.

“We're still doing hearings. So if somebody is charged with a felony they have a right to preliminary examination, a court hearing within 21 days. So we've been setting up court hearings, bond hearings, sentencings, arraignments. Just no jury trials," Wiese announced.

Wiese says the courtroom must be set up for social distancing for jurors and everyone present.

Meantime, certain proceedings can take place online. But those details are still being ironed out.

"For example, if you’re an attorney in Marquette and you have a 20 minute hearing in Delta county does it really makes sense to spend two or three hours going there and back to do a hearing that you can do now on Zoom," Wiese reasoned.

Just last week, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a witness cannot testify remotely without consent of the defendant.

"If they are, over the objection of the defendant then it's a violation of their Sixth Amendment rights," Wiese advised.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees among other things, you have the right to confront your accuser.

"It's a fundamental right in our Constitution that if you're going to be accused of a crime you get to know who's accusing you, and what they're saying you did," Wiese proposed.

Most non-violent offenders are being released on personal recognizance bonds until trial can be scheduled, according to Wiese.

"If you didn't want to agree to remote testimony, then you theoretically could be waiting for your hearing and if you're charged with a serious crime you could be waiting in jail until that hearing can be held,” Wiese declared.

Wiese says it could still be some time before the courtroom is redesigned for social distancing.

"Until there's a vaccine which is what they experts say, it’s really not going to be safe again for us to go back to the way it was as everybody likes to say,” Wiese figured.

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