COVID-19 outbreak though small and new has the dangerous potential to cause a significant disruption in the criminal justice system in a Northern City. In fact, the delta wave of COVID-19 has literally emptied local county courtrooms all over again.
COVID-19 and the Second Pandemic Rearing its Ugly Head
“Wow, I’ve been doing this for 40 years,” said defense attorney Nick Reyes. “I have not seen anything like this. We, in fact, may be in the second pandemic, but we go to court, clients are locking up. As a result, the clients’ rights are being run being trampling on.”
Prison Clients are Losing out on Their Constitutional Rights
By the time constitutional rights kick, it will become hard to get his client to court, said Reyes.
“Once they are taking into custody, in the federal system, they should go before a magistrate within 24 hours,” Reyes said. “Unfortunately, this is not happening. It usually is 48 hours or a determination of probable cause in the state system. Well, this is not happening!
COVID-19 and the Dilemma of Getting to Court
In fact, one of the main reasons the defendants are not getting to court is because of COVID-19 at the Fresno County jail. The sheriff’s office recently confirmed 27 cases among inmates on Friday. In fact, there are dozens more are in quarantine. They are, in fact, unable to leave the jail because of possible exposure.
However, it is nearly as bad as the situation there was in June of last year. Then there was an outbreak. It was detecting only after the jail sent inmates to the state prison system. That ended with more than 500 inmates that tested positive and more than 1,200 in quarantine.
Proof of Vaccination or a Negative COVID-19 Test
As of June 2021, there are new restrictions that do require jail visitors to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours. Also, everyone was asked to wear a mask.
Zoom and Dealing with Cases
Zoom has helped the judges get through the cases with defendants who are out of custody. But there is no access inside the jail itself.