Missouri COVID-19 Criminal Operation Restrictions

In Blog by RSFJ

On behalf of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry posted on Sunday, May 26, 2020

Missouri has recently hit national news for carrying out the country’s first execution amid the COVID-19 pandemic, breaking the country’s informal moratorium on using the death penalty during the current crisis. This event has shed light on how confusing and inconsistent the criminal system can be during these uncertain times. What parts of criminal cases are courts suspending? Are all cases being delayed? In a system that is already backed up, how are courts dealing with these delays in the long run? What does any of this mean for my criminal case?

Although no one has all the answers during these unprecedented times, you can be confident that Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry is staying up to date on developing news and laws relating to the currently unpredictable judicial process. Our experienced team is working tirelessly to ensure that our clients’ rights are not violated regardless of the necessary changes taking place.

Court Operations Restrictions in Missouri Due to COVID-19

As of right now, federal courthouses in Missouri are functionally open for business when it comes to transactional filings. As of right now, all federal jury trials in Missouri from now until July 6th, 2020 are continued and are set to be rescheduled sometime after July 6th, 2020. The orders announcing these delays essentially cited that the risk outweighs the interest of the parties and the public in speedy trial, due to the need to protect the health and safety of defendants, attorneys, court staff, and public. Additionally, the pandemic has made it very hard for the Court to ensure that defendants get a fair selection of jurors that would be available.

What Rights Do I Have?

These delays may push criminal cases to weeks or even years beyond the original trial dates. Normally, the Sixth Amendment could be used to protect criminal defendants from these untimely delays. However, Missouri Courts have declared that continuances resulting from its COVID-19 orders will be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A) due to the magnitude of the health concerns. 

It is not entirely clear how long this exemption from the right to speedy trial will last, but in some cases it is actually advisable to waive the right to a speedy trial. Waiving your right to a speedy trial can give your attorneys more time to develop your case, find more evidence, and be able to file an appeal. The criminal process has shifted considerably to adjust for the pandemic, but there still may be some due process arguments available to you in order to speed up your case. Whether you should take advantage of the delays or work to expedite your case as quickly as possible, is entirely dependent on the facts of your case. Our experienced attorneys at Rosenblum Schwartz and Fry will be able to devise a strategy that best fits your unique situation.

What Can This Mean for My Criminal Case?

These delays can mean you may have to remain in prison or jail until your trial or appeal can take place when it is safe to have a jury. If you are out on bail, your trial may be postponed but it is a good idea to stay in the area in case it gets hastily rescheduled. 

If your case is postponed, your attorney or local court should notify you right away and give you detailed instructions about what to do. Most jury trial dates have not yet been rescheduled, but federal, state, and local courts in Missouri are beginning to resume many other court proceedings. In or out of court, the attorneys at Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry are continuing to aggressively advocate for their clients. Whether it is working out ambitious deals with prosecutors or filing important motions on their behalf – Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry has not stopped fighting for their clients.

Awaiting any court proceeding with no definite end can be terrifying, especially with your rights at stake. The attorneys at Rosenblum Schwartz and Fry can give you some peace of mind during these uncertain times. It is more important than ever to have an attorney, make sure your rights are not overlooked during this crisis. Call us today at (314) 862-4332.

Works Cited

Court Orders and Updates During COVID-19 Pandemic | United States Courts. https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/court-website-links/court-orders-and-updates-during-covid19-pandemic#district. Accessed 23 May 2020.

Order-05-07-2020.Pdf. https://www.moed.uscourts.gov/sites/moed/files/documents/news/Order-05-07-2020.pdf. Accessed 23 May 2020.

Berman, Mark “Missouri Carries out Country’s First Execution Amid Pandemic.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/supreme-court-clears-missouri-to-carry-out-countrys-first-execution-amid-pandemic/2020/05/19/12b7cfba-9a1b-11ea-a282-386f56d579e6_story.html. Accessed 23 May 2020.

Sarat, Austin. “Analysis | Missouri Just Broke the Pandemic’s Moratorium on Executions.” Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/22/missouri-just-broke-pandemics-moratorium-executions/. Accessed 23 May 2020.
“What Happens If Your Criminal Case Is Suspended Because of a Pandemic?” Findlaw. blogs.findlaw.com, https://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2020/what-happens-if-your-criminal-case-is-suspended-because-of-a-pan.html. Accessed 23 May 2020.