Jeffco judge now postponing all jury trials through mid-February

Judge says county cannot currently safely convene juries

Staff Report
Posted 1/7/21

All jury trials in Jefferson and Gilpin counties will now be suspended through Feb. 15 after First Judicial District Chief Judge Jeffrey Pilkington issued an amendment to an existing order suspending …

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Jeffco judge now postponing all jury trials through mid-February

Judge says county cannot currently safely convene juries

Posted

All jury trials in Jefferson and Gilpin counties will now be suspended through Feb. 15 after First Judicial District Chief Judge Jeffrey Pilkington issued an amendment to an existing order suspending trials as a result of COVID-19.

Pilkington's new order states that while new cases, deaths and test positivity have been decreasing in Jeffco, he does not feel the situation has improved enough that the court could hold jury trials.

“The Court remains committed to trying jury trials in a manner which balances a defendant's rights with the obligation to do so in a safe and fair forum,” Pilkington wrote in the order. “Unfortunately, the Court finds that it cannot safely do so for the next six weeks.”

The order goes on to state that the court “cannot safely assemble a jury pool at this time in the pandemic.”

The new order means that the current suspension of trials, which began on Nov. 6, will last for at least three months.

It will also exacerbate what outgoing First Judicial District Attorney Pete Weir has called “the unprecedented backlog of cases” the court is facing as a result of two suspensions of jury trials because of COVID-19, plus delays that also occurred when trials were allowed to resume during the COVID-19 pandemic with significant precautions put in place. Jury trials were also suspended on March 15 and did not resume until August before being suspended again in November.

The order states that if jury trials resume as anticipated on Feb. 16, the county will use the same prioritization methodology that it used when trials first resumed in the fall, which was designed to ensure that trials were only greenlighted after all parties had expressed that the case was ready to proceed to trial. Pilkington also writes in the order that it may be “amended as necessary as circumstances have changed rapidly and may continue to do so.”

While jury trials are suspended, the court is continuing to conduct other business “using remote technology whenever possible,” according to the order.

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