COVID-19

Kzoo to resume jury trials

16 months after it stopped seating juries, county courts are set to resume. A backlog of cases awaits them.

It’s been 15 months since a jury saw the inside of a courtroom in Kalamazoo County’s 9th Circuit. Next month that trend will come to an end.

County officials announced that jury trials will resume August 2. Kalamazoo’s district court has already started holding jury trials.

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There is a backlog of cases ready to be heard by those first juries. There are currently 76 people awaiting trial in capital cases. Capital crimes include the most serious offenses, such as armed robbery and murder.

Kalamazoo County’s interim Chief Defender Donna Innes told MLive that the county rarely has more than 35 pending capital cases in normal times.

“The case load is getting quite difficult to manage on some levels,” she said. “We’re anxious to get started and have some finality – resolution for individuals who have been waiting a long time.”

There will still be COVID safety precautions. Only two courtrooms will be used for jury trials – their size allows for social distancing. People will be required to wear masks while in the courtroom and other rooms of the courthouse.

You can read more here.