Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Fall 2020 - 29

w w w.BERKSBAR.org

Technology Rising
The Berks County Courts have embraced the technological
advantages that have allowed the prosecution, the defense and the
Courts to coordinate and hold hearings via video. While this was
not without its growing pains, it is a system that works in the face
of adversity. This will likely be our new normal for a long time
coming, according to projected models from the White House.
However, the Courts are already moving toward a smarter, safer
Courtroom. Plans to enforce social distancing while holding
simple hearings, such as Officer only Omnibus Pretrial Hearings
and Bench Trials, will likely be happening in the near future.
Actions to allow this by the Supreme Court will allow us, in the
Berks County Criminal Law system, to appreciate a certain level
of normalcy, but it is likely months away from pre-COVID life.
We've been on the cusp of the brave new world for decades
now. For all of its horrors, COVID-19 may have been the
push we need to embrace a new frontier of Criminal Law in
Pennsylvania and Berks County. We must modernize courthouses
and courtrooms in Berks and across the Commonwealth.
Meetings for certain forms of hearings should be held on video
chat such as informal GAGNON IIs and Formal Arraignment
to reduce court times, making it easier on defendants and their
attorneys to speed up the process that will allow for quicker
disposition and release of defendants. Out of crises rise new
worlds, usually for the better. As the Enlightenment arose from
the horrors of the Black Death, maybe a Judicial Reformation
will rise from the Corona Terror.
i
Author's Note: This is only the adult population, all Berks Juveniles pending
hearings are held in Chester County; that total shall not be disclosed in respect of
those inmates' juvenile status.
ii
News, 69. "Berks Jail Freeing Some Inmates in Effort to Avoid Virus." WFMZ.
com, 25 Apr. 2020, www.wfmz.com/health/coronavirus/berks-jail-freeingsome-inmates-in-effort-to-avoid-virus/article_7d3229c8-69ea-11ea-a9608b97f5a94d08.html.
iii
Shuey, Karen, and Jeremy Long. "Berks County to Furlough Nonessential Employees during Coronavirus Pandemic." The Reading Eagle, The Reading Eagle,
31 Mar. 2020, www.readingeagle.com/coronavirus/berks-county-to-furloughnonessential-employees-during-coronavirus-pandemic/article_67d93564-72c611ea-81ed-9bb2002b84b0.html.
iv
William, Kevin B. "Coronavirus Deaths Projected to Hit 3,000 per Day by
June, Internal Trump Administration Analysis Says." CNBC, CNBC, 5 May
2020, www.cnbc.com/2020/05/04/coronavirus-trump-administration-projects3000-deaths-per-day-by-june.html.

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Mr. Wieder is a law clerk for the Honorable Timothy J. Rowley of the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. Mr. Baker
is a Berks County Assistant District Attorney.
*The Contents of this Article in no way reflect the opinions or
policy of the Berks County District Attorney's Office and are
the sole opinion of its authors.

Fall 2020 | 29


http://www.berksbar.org http://www.VISTBank.com http://www.TompkinsIns.com http://www.BrightLineTechSolutions.com http://masanobradley.com

Berks County Bar Association The Berks Barrister Fall 2020

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