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Criminal trials resume in Leon County

Leon County courthouse
Leon County courthouse(WCTV)
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 1:50 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Criminal trials resumed Tuesday in Leon County after nearly a year of COVID-19 delays.

The first two trials are being held in specially designed courtrooms.

The courtrooms have been renovated for socially distant proceedings, including plexiglass shields and newly expanded jury boxes.

“The jurors have to be 6 feet or more apart, and we’re talking six primary jurors and two alternates for a typical felony case,” Second Circuit Court Administrator Grant Slayden said. “That takes up a lot of square footage on the floor space.”

The state attorney says there’s now a backlog of more than 9,000 pending cases.

“Frustration. That’s probably the keyword of 2020 and this whole COVID. Frustration for the defendants, frustration for the witnesses, frustration for the victims, frustration for us in the criminal justice system,” State Attorney Jack Campbell said of the pandemic-induced delays.

The trials being held Tuesday are both aggravated battery cases that have been pending for more than a year.

Those trials are streaming on YouTube as seating in the courtrooms has been limited to ensure social distancing. The Court Administrator says families and victims will have top priority when it comes to watching the proceedings in person.

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