Due to concerns about COVID-19, Judge Nick Selvaggio, Champaign County Court of Common Pleas, and Judge Gil Weithman, county Municipal Court, are rescheduling jury trials scheduled for this month and the first half of April.
“Judges Selvaggio and Weithman are in agreement that every effort should be made to extend the current health and safety precautions taken by state officials to the Champaign County justice system,” according to a news release from the county Court of Common Pleas.
The release states the judges evaluated the need to preserve the constitutional right of the accused to a speedy trial, the opinions of public health experts, the nature of cases and the threat to public safety.
The judges are working with litigants to reschedule current trial dates to late April.
“Over the next several weeks, the judges will continue to evaluate the circumstances of each case and the constitutional rights of the accused to determine if the particular case warrants the necessity of asking large numbers of prospective jurors plus the litigants and trial witnesses to appear over the course of two days for trial,” the release states.
“If trial is necessary, the judges will do everything they can to minimize the risk of the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus to courtroom participants,” the release continues.
Grand jury rescheduled
The release further states that with the cooperation and consent of county Prosecutor Kevin Talebi, Judge Selvaggio postponed April’s grand jury to April 13 and “modified the manner of summoning grand jurors.”
The judges recommend that prospective jurors who receive summons for jury duty visit court websites for updated information. Judge Selvaggio’s court website is www.champaigncourt.org and Judge Weithman’s court website is www.champaigncountymunicipalcourt.com.
Tri-County Regional Jail
Non-essential access to the Tri-County Regional Jail in Mechanicsburg is suspended, according to Scott Springhetti, the jail’s executive director.
“Under the recommendations of federal, state and local agencies and departments, our facility is suspending all non-essential access to the facility,” he said. “This suspension is indefinite at this point in time and does currently include inmate visitation and any on-site professional visits that are not essential to the operation of the facility.
“We are currently trying to work with the local courts and other law enforcement agencies to try and develop additional strategies for managing our inmate population with regard to the COVID-19 virus,” Springhetti said.
He said additional measures are being implemented to already stringent sanitation procedures, such as cleaning tables, phones, desks and other items frequently touched.
Springhetti added that information regarding the COVID-19 virus is being monitored. “As the virus progresses, we will remain as proactive as possible to try and prevent or control the situation.”