On Your Side: Some defendants blame COVID-19 on why they can’t show up in court
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -It’s a tough problem for judges. They must figure out how to tell when a person is lying. Some people have ‘a new one’ during this pandemic.
Ashley Reynolds follows several court cases and noticed this on a docket. It reads: Defendant called and stated he is sick and headed to the doctor for a corona test. Clerk told him to fax a confirmation from doctor office.
Is this happening a lot? We asked a few judges.
Judge Robert George in Lawrence County says he does his best to evaluate the defendant’s history.
“We look at how many times a person has been in court before. I look back and see if there’s been a request for continuance and nature of the request,” he said.
Judges in four counties tell On Your Side, they require proof of a COVID-19 test or a doctor’s note. Clerks say they don’t need test results, just proof it happened.
“If they don’t come the next time, they’re likely to get to a mandated invitation,” said Judge Laura Johnson in Christian County.
Judge Johnson says a mandated invitation works well.
“I have actually found that the arrest warrant is really almost a 100 percent cure for COVID symptoms. When someone is threatened with an arrest warrant it’s miraculous how quickly those COVID-like symptoms can clear up,” said Judge Johnson.
Another thing judges are doing when a defendant says they’re sick, they ask them to stay in their car in the courthouse parking lot. Most can conduct the hearing over a cell phone.
If you have an upcoming court date and believe you’re getting sick, call the day before and see if a virtual hearing is an option.
Judges appreciate the notice especially if they have a heavy docket and will try to accommodate.
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