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Jury Trials Off In May, Non-Urgent Court Hearings Still Postponed

Jury trials and consideration of charges by grand juries will not be held in May, extending the period already set by Maine's highest court.

The decision was announced in one of several emergency orders issued by the Supreme Judicial Court. No jurors will be summoned to appear.

For defendants facing more serious charges, the relevant order said: "[T]he State is obligated to present felony charges to a grand jury within a reasonable period of time. If no indictment against a defendant has been returned by the grand jury within that reasonable period, a court is required to dismiss the complaint against that defendant, unless the attorney for the State moves to enlarge the period and shows the court good cause why the complaint should remain on the docket. This emergency order does not abrogate the State’s requirement to file such motions."

The due dates for payment of all fines, restitution, court fees, and reimbursement of court-appointed counsel fees are also extended to May 4. Outstanding warrants for unpaid fines, unpaid restitution, unpaid court-appointed counsel fees, failure to appear for unpaid fine hearings, have all been vacated.

Another order limits the motions that attorneys can file in criminal, child protection, mental health, juvenile, and guardianship cases. Motions can be filed electronically, without having to go to the court. Unexpired deadlines for criminal appeals have also been extended, as along as the deadline is not covered by a statute.

Court hours have also been severely reduced across the state. Superior and district courts in Alfred, Auburn, Bath, Farmington, Machias, and Madawaska have closed completely and others have been reduced dramatically.

The orders also cover the suspension of consideration of medical malpractice cases, depositions by video for civil cases already ongoing, and other matters.


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