Maine Courts Gear Up For In-Person Jury Trials After More Than A Year's Hiatus During Pandemic
Maine courthouses are slowly getting back into the business of holding in-person jury trials, after they were temporarily halted during the Coronavirus pandemic. Kennebec County became the latest to resume them Monday morning.
Some prosecutors say that when they started scheduling jury trials this spring, many defendants decided to plead guilty or accept plea deals that were offered months ago rather than go to trial. But despite a backlog of criminal cases, Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney says only one case is proceeding to trial this month.
“There were several people in my office who were quite disappointed that they didn't get to try a case,” Maloney says. “People become prosecutors because they do enjoy standing up in a courtroom and telling the jury about what happened and the whole drama of the courtroom."
The jury trial schedule is slow for courthouses around the state. Penobscot County held its first jury trial of the year last month - a homicide case. Cumberland County held one trial last month and has two scheduled in May. But in Machias, cases that had been on the docket have been resolved one way or another - and no new trials are expected there until July. Piscataquis County has yet to schedule one this year.