Jacksonville, FL - No courthouse, no trials.
But even with the old courthouse scheduled to reopen on Monday, most trials have been pushed back to the week of the 18th.
Assistant State Attorney Rich Commando says they will hold no criminal trials next week, and his office wants a definite answer on just how long we will be moving back and forth.
“I think any week that there’s a delay it has an impact on our office and it’s something that we would like to see move forward,” he says.
The average caseload for his office varies greatly week to week, but Commando says they have seen as many as 15 trials in one week. Public Defender Matt Shirk had to push off 12 trials next week, and that means a growing backlog.
“Every say that goes by, there’s hundreds of cases that we have that are not being resolved, so he work is starting to pile up,” he says.
And some of those cases are approaching a deadline to try before speedy justice becomes an issue. Shirk says a number of judicial officials have been meeting daily to determine if there are any emergency cases, and if so how to handle them. They are also discussing the best way to deal with the growing backlog and how to move along cases that don’t need to go to trial.
Commando’s office has had two speedy trial claims already, both of which were resolved. He doesn’t expect more because we now have a definite idea of when the trials will begin once again.
And if, over the course of next week, there is an emergency that surfaces, Shirk says the Chief Judge has promised to impanel a jury and make a trial happen in some way.
Another problem he has been dealing with is client calling to ask just where to go to court. Shirk says only recently, through the daily meetings, does he feel like he has enough information on the right timeline. Although getting that information to all parties is still a challenge.
Not all trials have been cancelled. Commando says there will be a few civil matter taken up at the Beach Boulevard location, but that facility is not equipped to handle the security needs of a criminal trial.