Live Mic: Coronavirus in the court system

Apr 10, 2020, 4:53 PM
Coronavirus court system...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Coronavirus is hitting the court system. Utah’s response to the coronavirus is centered around restricting large group gathering and implementing social distancing measures.

While these practices help the general public, it complicating the necessary functions of everyday life. For example, there are safety concerns about jurors gathering to proceed with a criminal trial.

So,  how do the courts go about guaranteeing a citizen’s right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution?

Third District Presiding Judge Mark Kouris joined KSL’s Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic to explain how the court system is executing justice for all during the coronavirus pandemic.

“How does a defendant get a speedy trial during all of this pandemic?” Lee asked the judge.

“That is something, needless to say, that we’ve had to wrestle quite a bit with,” Kouris said.

Holding court electronically

The judge said only about 3% of criminal cases actually end up proceeding to a jury trial and are tried, adding that if the number increased to as much as 10%, the justice system would effectively break down.

Kouris said bringing together a large number of potential jurors in one room would be very difficult during the pandemic.

“What we’ve done is tried to make the other 97 or 98 percent of the process continue to move along. And we’ve done that with a number of good strategies,” Kouris said.

See you in e-court

The IT department workers at the court connected the judge to a virtual “courtroom” in eight days, a process he said that would have normally taken at least six months.

Kouris explains how it works.

“So what I do now is go out into my courtroom. There’s no one in there. My clerk turns the record on to make sure the whole thing’s being recorded.

“I pull my screen up, and there I have a number of people, their faces represented on the video feed. I have the jail. I’ve got 10 or 15 defense lawyers, all coming from their own offices or houses. I’ve also got prosecutors there. Can we go through the calendar and call these people,” the judge told Lee.

Except for a jury trial, he said, all other court matters are happening.

“[For preliminary hearings] We have prosecutors bring witnesses to their offices if they’re the ones who called witnesses. They testify right on the video,” the judge explained. “Defense lawyers question them right there on the video.

Kouris said defense lawyers can consult with their clients on a phone lead that goes down to the jail. He added that it’s not the best scenario but goes a long way to ensure a defendant’s constitutional rights are not infringed.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah:

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line 18004567707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

Today’s Top Stories


A suspect is in custody Wednesday evening after University of Utah Police say two hidden cameras we...
Mark Jones

Hidden cameras found in restrooms in U of U Student Life Center, suspect in custody

University of Utah Police say a suspect has been arrested after two hidden cameras were found inside two different restrooms inside the Student Life Center.
1 day ago
Salt Lake City Police took a 44-year-old man into custody on Wednesday in connection to the burglar...
Mark Jones

SLC Police arrest man for burglarizing two law offices

Salt Lake City Police say a 44-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in connection to burglarizing two downtown law offices last week.
1 day ago
A former American Fork soccer coach is under arrest and facing six felony counts of child sexual ab...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Former American Fork soccer coach arrested on charges of child sexual abuse

The suspect arrested on charges of child sexual abuse was reportedly a soccer coach for the UC Strikers and Utah FC junior teams, between 2000 and 2014, according to American Fork Police.
1 day ago
Elizabeth Weiler

Man arrested in relation to Provo Towne Center Mall bomb threat

A Provo man was arrested after calling in a bomb threat to his former employer. The man was recently fired.
1 day ago
Eli Mitchell, victim of fatal hit and run...
Mark Jones

Utah County man pleads guilty to death of West Jordan teenager

A Saratoga Springs man pleaded guilty Tuesday in Third District Court of automobile homicide in connection to the death of a 13-year-old West Jordan teenager last April.
2 days ago
homeless shelters and Homelessness in Utah...
Alejandro Lucero

Utah official says better coordination could help with homelessness

Homelessness continues to grow in big cities across the U.S., and Salt Lake City is not an enigma. Could focusing on mental health help curb the trend?
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Live Mic: Coronavirus in the court system