ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Greg Edwards, Dougherty County District Attorney, said the COVID-19 surge, as well as all towns not having the ability to follow CDC guidelines, were some of the reasons for stopping grand juries.
In the meantime, some probation revocations, bond hearings and pre-trial motions are being taken care of.
“Pre-trial motions are beneficial, so everyone will know what they can properly argue or not argue when we go to court,” said Edwards.
One problem with the pandemic is, Edwards pointed out, is “the law never contemplated for social distancing and wearing masks and other protective clothing.”
Visibility is essential when it comes to grand juries, according to Edwards.
“Everybody needs to be able to see everybody, that’s just the way our system of law and justice evaluate credibility and believability is designed, we gotta get to where we can continue to do that effectively,” Edwards said.
Unlike most things, Edwards said grand juries cannot be done virtually because of the fact jurors must remain anonymous.
The reason they can’t do Zoom with juries is that they need to actually see the evidence, the district attorney said. Another reason is to make sure people aren’t accessing information that hasn’t been approved by the court.
Edwards said he hopes and anticipates the Georgia Supreme Court will look at the level of vaccinations, among other things, to allow grand juries to start again.
“Getting the general population vaccinated, I think, is what they’re going to be looking at and should be looking at,” he said.
Edwards said he understands as cases are prolonged, evidence can be diminished because of people moving from the area, but unfortunately, the delay is unavoidable.
The district attorney said it’s going to be a group effort to get things back to normal.