District Attorney Jason Pierce sits at his desk, reflecting over the past several months when world seemed change overnight.
Like most, his office has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s changed the everyday life of the court system. With social distancing and safer-at-home orders, the district attorney’s office and court system has had to adjust.
“Initially, it forced us to evaluate which people had higher priority in jail and with bond,” said Pierce.
Pierce credited Sheriff Chuck Phillips and his office with making sure the virus was kept out of the Jackson County Jail, saying good decisions have been made with quarantining.
“We’ve put a strong emphasis on doing things virtually,” said Pierce. “And again, that’s a credit to the jail and defense bar.”
Pierce said on revocation dockets, his office sends an offer to defense attorneys, who then go to their client to work out a deal. Once an agreement is reached, there is a virtual hearing on a zoom call with a judge.
“Part of that logic is if someone left the jail, they would have to be quarantined on return,” said Pierce.
If court is held in person, only the defendant is allowed inside, said Pierce.
“We get the defendants in and try to get a deal worked out,” he said. “If not, we set it for a later date. We are able to process a lot of cases this way.”
Trial court is scheduled to return to the state on Sept. 14.
“We had just completed grand jury when the pandemic started,” said Pierce. “We missed trial terms in May and a grand jury in June. The trial week scheduled for August is not going to happen. We’ve got a lot of stuff trying to be resolved.”
The cases are piling up with a lot of work to be done. Pierce said on Sept. 14 there will have to be a lot of cooperation between judges and attorneys with cases in different counties.
“We need to get going,” said Pierce.