Florida courts face months-long delay of trials due to COVID-19

Courts across the state face an eight-month backlog of cases and judges are scrambling to get the accused their day in court.

With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting the world down for most of 2020, things are still far from normal at the Orange County Courthouse. Eight months of trials have been put on hold and postponed. 

President of the Orange County Bar Association and a Civil Trial Attorney LaShawnda Jackson is now giving her clients a conservative guess on when they will get their day in court. 

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"I've been telling my clients that we should expect late 2021, if at all," she said

That might not be too far off. Per an order from the Supreme Court, criminal trials take priority. In the 9th Judicial Circuit, criminal trials just restarted October 23rd in a limited capacity due to social distancing.

"Our limitations on trying to try jury trials are really driven by space in the facility. Right now, we have three courtrooms that are appropriate to select juries," Chief Judge Donald Myers told FOX 35. "Then we have to move into an alternate space to try the case where we can appropriately socially distance the jury. We have 15 of those in Orange County."

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He explained that it is going to take time to get completely caught up, stating that "with the full resources of the circuit, we're hopeful that we'll be able to make a significant dent in those over the next probably 1.5 to 3 years is my guess of how long it's going to take to fully catch up and do the work that is developing now."

Jackson tells bar members and clients that they just have to be flexible and patient. She said that "it's something I know I never dealt with, never envisioned dealing with, and the court system has to adjust to the pandemic."

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.