Sunday, September 6, 2020

Video for Felony Plea Hearings OK'ed

The Mississippi Supreme Court issued the following statement. 


The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 4, issued an  order allowing plea hearings in felony cases to be conducted by video conference to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in jails.
 

            Chief Justice Mike Randolph signed Emergency Administrative Order 16 today. The order said that trial judges have the discretion to use interactive audiovisual equipment to conduct plea hearings.  

            The order said that allowing plea hearings to be conducted by video appearance is “in the interest of balancing the health risks presented by COVID-19 with the courts’ constitutional and statutory duty to remain open and accessible.”

            The Supreme Court said that video conferencing for a plea hearing can be done only if a defendant willingly agrees to this method, and only if the defense attorney is physically present with the defendant. The Court issued these requirements:

            (1)  a full record of the proceedings shall be made, which may include an electronic recording (digitally or on tape);
            (2) after consultation with counsel, the defendant shall provide written consent to the use of “interactive audiovisual equipment” during the proceedings;
            (3) the court shall determine that the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily agrees to appear at the proceeding by interactive audiovisual means; and
            (4) counsel shall be physically present with the defendant during the proceedings, with each taking appropriate and/or mandated measures to minimize the potential transmission of COVID-19 (e.g., face coverings over the nose and mouth; social distancing), and provisions shall be made to allow for confidential communications between the defendant and counsel before and during the proceeding.

            On March 25, the Mississippi Attorney General and the State Public Defender filed a joint motion requesting the Supreme Court to adopt a temporary rule suspension that would allow felony plea hearings, sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be done by way of interactive audiovisual equipment. The request was made in an effort  to prevent the introduction of  COVID-19 into jails. The Supreme Court on March 26 declined to allow plea hearings by video conference, but agreed to temporarily suspend Rule1.8(c) of the Mississippi Rules of Criminal Procedure to allow sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be conducted by video conference. 

             The President of the United States signed the CARES Act the next day, March 27.  The CARES Act authorized federal courts to use video conferencing, under certain circumstances, for various criminal proceedings during the COVID-19 emergency, including felony pleas.

            The Supreme Court on Aug. 5 said it would reconsider the issue of trial courts using  video  conferences to conduct plea hearings. The Court told the Attorney General and the State Public Defender to provide more information via supplemental briefs.

            State Defender Andre’ de Gruy  in a document filed Aug. 11 said, “The purpose of our request in March and still today is to protect the health and safety of detainees while ensuring their constitutional rights are protected as well. Protection of this vulnerable population also protects everyone involved in the system including jailors, court personnel and defense lawyers but the defendant's rights must be paramount.”

            The office of the Attorney General asked the Court in a document filed Aug. 20 to protect vulnerable populations of jails by “vesting complete discretion in Mississippi’s trial court judges to decide on a case-by-case bases whether in-person hearings can be conducted safely or should be handled remotely.”

            The Attorney General noted that all U.S. District Courts in Mississippi as well as in neighboring states use video conferences for accepting felony pleas. The Attorney General wrote that after the CARES Act allowed federal district courts to utilize video conferences to conduct plea hearings, “all federal district courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee have found that felony plea proceedings cannot be conducted in person without seriously jeopardizing public health and safety and authorized the use of interactive audiovisual technology for these proceedings where the defendant consents and the court specifically finds that the plea cannot be delayed without serious harm to the interests of justice.”

Emergency Administrative Order16  is at this link: 


6 comments:

Anonymous said...

" On March 25, the Mississippi Attorney General and the State Public Defender filed a joint motion requesting the Supreme Court to adopt a temporary rule suspension that would allow felony plea hearings, sentencing hearings and probation violation hearings to be done by way of interactive audiovisual equipment. "

All of that is well and good.

I'm all for interactive audiovisual equipment.
Some call this basic video.
It's' been common for over twenty years.

While I'm happy the health of the staff is being considered, I won't ask any questions about new furniture, interior decorations or such within the AG's office.

Anonymous said...

Only took them 6 months into the pandemic to approve it

Anonymous said...

@5:03PM
What is the obsession with the AG's office decor? Every executive in the world decorates their office. What exactly are you criticizing? What is your point? Or are you simply a bitter white male misogynist with no point beyond your disdain for women?

Anonymous said...

9:11, i would suggest you attempt to educate yourself about the history of excessive spending on the part of Fitch in her previous positions as that is obviously what was referenced in the post you criticize. For a conservative, she sure does like to spend the taxpayers money. Unfortunately, when she is called out on it, she does what you just did and claim misogyny. The post you criticize was not my post, i am posting for the first time in this thread and doing so for the simple purpose of challenging you to actually argue with facts and not name-calling. Happy Labor Day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks 11:31.

That was exactly my point.

Great first post !
I hope we see more of your observations.

Anonymous said...

@9:11, Maybe executives in the private sector decorates their offices, but State employees, and she is just an employee, cannot just start spending public money on office furniture unless something is broken. I've worked in several different State buildings, and that just doesn't happen. I can't imagine how much it would cost to change office furniture every time there was an employee turnover. Her staff probably needs office supplies that they can't get because she used a big portion of the budget replacing perfectly good furniture.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.


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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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