Jefferson County Superior Court trials may be canceled again due to COVID-19

Posted 1/22/21

The cancellation of the start of all criminal and civil trials in Jefferson County Superior Court because of the surge in COVID-19 infections last fall may be extended into the coming …

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Jefferson County Superior Court trials may be canceled again due to COVID-19

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The cancellation of the start of all criminal and civil trials in Jefferson County Superior Court because of the surge in COVID-19 infections last fall may be extended into the coming months.

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper said last week he was considering extending the moratorium on trials because the county remains in a high risk COVID situation.

During Friday’s criminal hearings in Superior Court, Harper noted several cases that had been set to get underway in the last week of January may not happen.

Harper had earlier called off the start of Superior Court trials in Jefferson County when COVID-19 cases began to spike in Washington state last November.

Trials that had been scheduled to start in late November, as well as December and much of January, were set back after Harper signed an administrative order Nov. 20 that canceled all trials.

That order put off all Superior Court trials that were scheduled to start before Jan. 25.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County, however, has spiked since late November due to holiday-related gatherings and other factors. In the two-week period before Christmas week, just nine coronavirus cases were reported in the county.

The number climbed to 11 cases in the two weeks between Dec. 21 and Dec. 27, and rose to 17 cases in the two weeks of Dec. 28 to Jan. 3.

Another 17 cases were confirmed between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10, and Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said the increase represented a “holiday surge.”

County health officials have reported 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19  in the past week alone. Jefferson County had a total of 272 cases through Sunday, up from 253 on Friday, Jan. 8.

In November, Jefferson County District Court Judge Mindy Walker also canceled all criminal cases that had been scheduled for November and December, and moved other court proceedings online, due to the increased risk of COVID-19.

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