Shortly after releasing its guidelines for reopening courts in the Commonwealth, the Supreme Court of Kentucky provided further guidance in regards to upcoming trials. The Order builds in time for courts to prioritize criminal proceedings that have been delayed as a result of COVID-19. As such, the Order makes the following provisions:
- All jury trials currently scheduled to occur before August 1, 2020 are to be postponed and rescheduled no sooner than August 1, 2020 with in-custody criminal trials having priority over all other proceedings.
- Grand jury proceedings may resume on June 1, 2020 and may be conducted remotely via available telephonic or video technology subject to the applicable Rules of Criminal Procedure.
- Access to view the return of indictments pursuant to RCr 5.20 must be provided to members of the public and media through live audio or video or by digital recording.
- Any case where the 60-day period in RCr 5.22(3) or an extension thereof was tolled by operation [of] Order 2020-28 shall be presented to the grand jury on or before July 30, 2020. The Commonwealth’s Attorney is encouraged to give priority to cases where the defendant is in custody and proceedings have been tolled by the Supreme Court’s response to the COVID-19 emergency.
- Existing grand jury panels may be extended at the discretion of the court, subject to the 20-day limitation set out in AP Part II, Sec. 19(3).
- Jurors who are ill, caring for someone who is ill, or in a high-risk category shall have their jury service postponed to a later date.
- Jurors who are unable to wear a facial covering because doing so would pose a serious threat to their health or safety shall have their jury service postponed to a later date.
- Jurors who were laid off, became unemployed, or otherwise suffered an economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and who show they would suffer further economic loss as a result of jury service, shall be excused for undue hardship.
The Order, which can be found here, will take effect on June 1, 2020 and shall remain in effect until further guidance is published. Return here for additional updates on the judiciary’s response to COVID-19.