New Mexico attorneys preparing for jury trials to resume

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – In just a few weeks, courtrooms across the state will start seeing jury trials pick back up again. That means, district attorneys throughout the state are getting ready to play catch up. Many prosecutors have had to push back trial dates because of the global pandemic shutdown. As things start to reopen, many prosecutors have to rearrange their schedules to prioritize cases that were supposed to have gone to trial by now.

“We had some trials set up the first week of June and the second week of June, but I don’t think that those are going to be able to go,” says 13th Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez. Martinez says his office lost a lot of time because of the shutdown. However, he believes his office will be able to handle the small backlog as jury trials resume.

Thursday, the New Mexico Supreme Court announced jury trials for civil and criminal cases can start again between June 15 and July 15. Before that happens, courts across the state need to submit their plan to the Supreme Court on how they plan on operating jury trials. Plans will need to include social distancing guidelines and wearing masks. For attorneys like Sam Bregman, he thinks this will become the new norm as the state slowly reopens.

“In the past, we’ve had docket calls where there’s been dozens and dozens of people in the courtroom. I think those days are probably passed,” says Bregman.

High profile cases were also put on hold during this shutdown. Former Santa Fe Deputy Tai Chan was supposed to go on trial this month for the death of his partner, Jeremy Martin. That has now been reset to October. Former New Mexico State Police Officer Jessica Turner is still scheduled to go to trial next month for a DWI back in February 2018. No word on if that will change or stay the same.

A spokesperson for the 2nd Judicial District Court here in Albuquerque says they are still working on their plan to submit to the Supreme Court. KRQE News 13 reached out to the Bernalillo County DA’s Office multiple times to ask if they will have a backlog of cases but did not hear back.

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