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As the coronavirus pandemic has brought the local justice system almost to a halt, local court officials have hit upon a novel idea for getting the wheels of justice turning again: holding some trials at the Spokane County Fairgrounds & Expo Center.
The court recently hit the brakes on jury trials a second time due to concerns about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Spokane County and the potential for the coronavirus to spread in crowded courtrooms.
Judge Michael Price made the announcement Wednesday afternoon in an email to court staff, a copy of which was obtained by The Spokesman-Review. He cited statistics from the Spokane Regional Health District that illustrate "the continued escalation of COVID-19 in Spokane County."
The $2.2 million project at the corner of 37th Avenue and Glenrose Road has been challenged by neighbors, who argue the county's planning director has incorrectly classified the project and allowed it to proceed in an area that is unsuitable for the development.
There has not been a jury trial in Western Washington – perhaps in the entire state – since early March. While the wheels of justice still turn – some hearings are still held, arraignments and pleas are taken – for the most part they are spinning in place. The federal courthouses in Seattle and Tacoma have been shuttered by judicial order: Pretrial proceedings are done either by video, telephone or postponed. In the busier state courts, where locking the doors hasn’t been an option, the daily docket call looks very different than it did just four months ago.
The state emergency orders over COVID-19 should be ended and local health districts allowed to decide what steps their communities should take in response to the virus, an attorney for some Chelan County residents argued Thursday in a court in Wenatchee.
All civil and criminal jury trials in Spokane County have been postponed until after July 6.
With video conferencing, courts are trying to fit an in-person process into a no-contact world and trying to balance justice with safety in unprecedented ways.
Prosecutors last week permanently dropped a first-degree assault charge against Joseph Riley, who was accused of beating Daniel Jarman outside a bar in late December, leaving him with fatal head wounds.
Only 620 people were held in the Spokane County Jail and the Geiger Corrections Center on Friday evening, according to the county’s online jail roster. That’s roughly two-thirds of the usual inmate population.
A jury found Bryan M. Owens, 60, guilty of first-degree manslaughter while armed with a firearm Monday for fatally shooting a man who was panhandling outside McDonald’s near Grand Mound in September.
Spokane County officials are barring friends and relatives from visiting inmates in the downtown jail and at the Geiger Corrections Center to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Officials also are suspending all educational and therapeutic programs for inmates at Geiger, as well as the inmate work crew.
A Washington woman has pleaded not guilty to drugging a mother after authorities say she posed as a photographer in an complex plot to kidnap the mother’s newborn baby.
In a unanimous opinion issued last week, the high court’s nine justices sided with Stevens County Superior Court judges who sought to preside over preliminary hearings in cases that were originally filed in District Court. Such hearings often determine whether a defendant will be let out of jail while awaiting trial.
The fires were small but diverted firefighters and resources from two much larger blazes that erupted on the same day in Spokane and Valleyford, destroying homes, crops and other property.
In lawsuits brought by the county prosecutor, the commissioners – Wes McCart, Don Dashiell and Steve Parker – are accused of misspending more than $121,000 from a public fund dedicated to fighting homelessness.
A man accused of killing his wife in January 2018 represented himself in court Thursday after more than a year in jail and filed a motion to dismiss the case against him based on speedy trial rules.
Virtually nothing in Erik G. Sherman’s past indicated that he would be seated, in a jail jumpsuit on Friday, before a Superior Court Commissioner who complained that a plea agreement would not allow him to sentence Sherman to life in prison for the brutal beating death of his 20-day-old son.
A Spokane judge on Wednesday clarified how much more time former Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy and convicted killer Thomas A. DiBartolo must serve in community custody once he’s released from prison next February.
Returning to the same courthouse where he was convicted in 1997 of killing his wife and blaming it on two robbers, former Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas A. DiBartolo, 64, asked a judge to allow him to go back to work-release as part of the process of releasing him from custody.