In-person hearings and jury trials may resume soon as the Cache County courts are expected to move back to a “yellow” phase after around nine months in “red.”
During jury trial status hearings on Tuesday, Judge Angela Fonnesbeck indicated the courts may soon be moving back to yellow, providing more flexibility for scheduling in-person hearings and jury trials.
“I think we may be actually moving forward,” Fonnesbeck said.
Fonnesbeck said details are still being ironed out regarding jury pool management and how to handle the sheer volume of cases. At prior hearings, it has been indicated senior judges were being considered to step in to help bear the load.
Valeria Jimenez, the Public Outreach Coordinator for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said while Cache County is still currently in a red phase, a change was pending. Jimenez said the Judicial Council Management Committee was expected to meet about the matter on Tuesday and an order was expected.
Cache County has been in a red phase since September as a result of the courts’ COVID-19 pandemic risk response plan. Restrictions on the courts include suspended jury trials and in-person hearings without exigent circumstances, much to the dismay of defense attorneys focused on the rights of defendants — particularly those held without bail — and prosecutors concerned about resolving cases for the alleged victims of crime.
Cache County was briefly moved to a yellow phase in August 2020, but high rates of COVID-19 transmission pushed the courts back to a red phase after nearly a month.
During Tuesdays hearing, several cases on the trial track were pushed out till June 23, when it’s expected jury trail dates may begin to be slated.