Everyone knows the saying innocent until proven guilty. To be proven guilty, the trial should be a fair and honest one. This truth is the backbone of the sixth amendment. However, COVID 19 and the pandemic that has come with it seem to be threatening these trials’ validity, which can leave the defendant at risk. Allow us to explain how covid could affect your right to due process.
Going to Court During COVID-19
Face-masks — The widespread use of facemasks is one of the most effective ways to combat the virus’s spread. This isn’t a problem in everyday life, but it can complicate things in the court setting. If trial participants use facemasks, it violates the defendant’s rights because it makes it impossible for them to read the other participants’ demeanor. This is one of the four critical elements in the confrontation clause of the sixth amendment.
Jury Race — This virus has reached all the corners of the earth. While all races and social-economical classes have been affected, those who have been hit the hardest are the people of color and those of low-income communities much more than those of the upper class. Being that those most affected by the virus are less likely to attend an in-person jury, the defendant runs the risk of being tried with a jury that doesn’t accurately represent their community.
Timely Trail — Perhaps the most difficult part of the pandemic for the courts is finding the balance between the right to a timely trial and following the public health recommendations. The virus has left many apprehensive about showing up for an in-person trial, both workers and defendants/ accused alike. This is one of the many legal challenges that are affecting our country’s legal processes at this time.