For Immigrants Facing Deportation During COVID-19, Detention Poses Another Risk
Pedro Viera had one thing on his mind: getting to Las Vegas. And he needed the judge to know it.
It was April 7, sentencing day for Viera in the Third District Court in Salt Lake City. As the country was in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 51-year-old Orem man had been locked up at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail for 167 days.
He had pleaded guilty in February to a misdemeanor of sexual battery. The charge stemmed from him inappropriately touching a co-worker at the rehab center where he worked as a certified nursing assistant in late 2018.
Colorado Defense Attorneys Adapting to Coronavirus Court Delays
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of American life, including the court systems. In Colorado, courts have temporarily ceased normal operations, delaying a number of trials for at least several weeks and maybe even longer.
In a recent order, Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Coats suspended numerous court operations, resulting in the delay of many cases. According to Matthew A. Martin, P.C., a criminal defense attorney and DUI defense lawyer in Denver, the ruling was unfortunate but expected.
“A courthouse is a very public setting,” said Martin. “While suspensions and postponements are never ideal, it’s just not possible to adhere to all the directives on social distancing in that sort of setting.”
Unfortunately, it’s not clear when and how postponed and suspended cases will begin again. While Governor Jared Polis is set to ease many statewide restrictions; it’s expected that court systems will continue suspending or limiting operations for some time.