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Maricopa Superior Courts Suspend Jury Trials And Other In-Person Proceedings Until August

The Maricopa County Superior Court announced this week it is suspending new jury trials through the month of July in response to the increase of COVID-19 cases in Arizona. Public defenders say the delay is infringing upon their clients’ constitutional right to due process.

An administrative order issued by Judge Joseph Welty suspends new jury trials and other in-person proceedings until August. Grand jury selection and operations have also been suspended.

Christine Jones is the attorney supervisor at the Maricopa County Public Defender’s office. She says the delays in the courts mean many of their clients are trapped in a legal purgatory.

“When somebody sits in jail, with no end in sight to the continuance of their case, to us, that is a violation of their constitutional rights," Jones said.

Maricopa County Superior Court spokesperson Amy Love says the courts share those concerns, but they are acting out of caution for the health and safety of jurors and members of the public who have business before the courts.

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Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.