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CCBA Feature

By Daniel R. Bush, Esquire


ne question many criminal defendants and
their families have been asking over the past
few weeks is "What is going to happen with my
case?" While the question is fair, there is no clear answer.
The current environment everywhere - including in
the criminal justice system - is as fluid and dynamic as
any time in recent history. Rules which may have applied
last week may no longer be in effect, and tomorrow's
rules may not be the same as those in place today.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's court system
is a perfect example of this ever-changing landscape.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania courts have established
a framework to ensure that the current nationwide
emergency does not push our society into a situation of
complete lawlessness.
Like all entities in the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania
courts have severely limited their functions. All trials

6 | New Matter

have been discontinued. However, even in a state of
emergency, it is simply not possible for courts to stop
conducting business. Thus, courts have not totally shut
their doors. Individual counties will continue to have
judges and staff available to handle matters where delay
will cause significant harm. These cases are proceeding
in an expedited manner, which will assure that those
individuals most in need of a rapid resolution will
get one.
One of the most pressing issues the courts are facing
is what to do with people who are incarcerated. Those
with lengthier jail sentences are generally unaffected,
but those who were recently incarcerated for more
minor offenses like probation violations or who were
picked up on a warrant are required by law to be brought
before a judge quickly. The Sixth Amendment to the
Constitution guarantees each person a right to a speedy
trial, and our laws more specifically define those time
limits. This fundamental right has not and cannot
be suspended. Despite the need to minimize contact
between individuals, certain business of courts must go
on. The rights of those who previously were entitled to
be brought before a judge in a speedy manner remain
unaffected by the current pandemic.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ChesterNewMatter2ndQtr2020

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