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Resumption Of Trials Reversed as Covid-19 Cases Rise In Maine

York County Superior Court

Trials planned for the coming months in York and Cumberland counties are being cancelled because of rising levels of Covid-19 cases in Maine - reversing plans to resume them after months of delays.

On Friday, November 24, it was decided that trials planned for December in Cumberland country are now being cancelled out of an abundance of caution because of the rise in infections. Notices have yet to be issued formally.

Trials were also being planned for January and February next year in York county - but the number of cases is not expected to fall before December.

On Tuesday a record high of 255 cases and 12 deaths was reported. Hospitalizations have also spiked. However, Maine has country’s the second lowest death rate and has contained the spread of Covid-19 better than most other states so far.

Early in November, the Supreme Judicial Court updated its plans for management of delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a huge case backlog which is continuing to grow. Many hearings are being conducted remotely by video, but criminal trials had only recently restarted on a very limited basis.

There are plans to widen the use of remote hearings and electronic filings. Some in-person arraignments in Portland have also been cancelled for the next two weeks after an outbreak among prosecutors at Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office.

The growing backlog of criminal cases led courts to set aside hearings on many civil matters such as money judgments, foreclosures, disclosures, small claims, land use violations, among others. The cancelations of trials for a second time is only going to put further pressure on an already strained system.


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