State courthouses across Illinois may end social distancing measures and starting Oct. 1 criminal defendants may again invoke their right to a speedy trial under new Illinois Supreme Court rules.
The court issued two orders last week that essentially undo rules put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those rules included suspending speedy trial deadlines, or the number of days after which defendants may demand prosecutors bring them to trial or charges are dropped.
Those deadlines will again come into play effective Oct. 1, a date Chief Justice Anne Burke said was chosen to give chief circuit court judges time to prepare. Decisions of whether or how to relax social distancing rules will be left up to local courts, according to the order.
“It is important to note that our courts remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic and thousands of court proceedings have taken place via both in-person and virtual hearings,” Burke said. “However, conducting criminal jury trials has been very difficult. These two orders will help our courts prepare for a return to a full slate of jury trials.”
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The Chicago Tribune reports some defense attorneys at the criminal courthouse in Chicago have tried to formally demand trial on behalf of their clients during the pandemic. But judges have ruled the demands have no teeth due to the Illinois Supreme Court’s orders, which were put in place at the start of the pandemic in early 2020.