By Brandan Davies
The justice system is a slow moving machine by design. Busy dockets and delays can be the name of the game anytime a person walks into the courthouse. But what happens when the court closes its doors? Lawyers and litigants alike are experiencing just that in Johnson County as the District Court has moved almost entirely to an online format. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the district court to a standstill on many cases as officials have rightfully prioritized the health of the community over access to courts. Depending on the type of case you have pending some hearings can be performed virtually but some can not. This is all leading to a hug backlog of cases. So how do you know if your case is one that can proceed of not? This changes from week to week but currently this is what’s going on as cases move through the system.
- Criminal Cases: Depending on the type of case, there are still some cases getting resolved. Courts are still doing pleas and sentencings on most matters virtually. First Appearances, arraignments, preliminary examinations and motion’s hearings are being conducted regularly. Expungement hearings are also being conducted virtually. Trials are being done on non-felony matters if a defendant is willing to waive confrontation clause issues and agree to do a trial via teleconference. Some cases are moving through the system but most serious matters are getting continued over and over waiting on access to the court.
- Civil Cases: Divorce proceedings, Protection from Abuse and Stalking Order hearings and other family law matters are being conducted online. Administrative law matters like Appeals of Driver’s License suspensions (after a DUI case) and quiet title actions are being conducted virtually. Debt collection cases and evictions are still available to be done virtually but most civil cases where the end result will be a trial are getting continued out until court resumes in person.
What this means for everyone dealing with a legal matter right now is that the wheels of justice are going to be slower than usual. It’s unavoidable at this point and litigants are just going to have to get used to the idea that where there is adversity there is opportunity. If you’re currently facing a criminal case and out on bond, the extended period of time before your case is heard can give you time to prepare, as well as, put your best foot forward following the bond rules. If you are unfortunately convicted at some date in the future after a trial, the time you spent following the rules on bond will surely be taken into account when the judge performs the sentencing aspect of your case. Similarly, if you are facing a civil case, take advantage of the additional time by preparing for trial and working with your lawyer to get the best result possible.
Lastly, its very easy to get frustrated and let the anxiety that runs hand-in-hand with any legal matter get the best of you. The prolonged wait before you get your “Day in Court” can be excruciating even before the pandemic. Don’t fall into that trap, just spend the additional time on preparation and you will surely be better off with your legal endeavors.
With decades of experience on our side, the attorneys at Roth Davies are proud to serve individuals across the Overland Park area on issues related to personal injury, family law, divorce law and criminal defense. We’re here to help you find a solution.