Jury trials in Iowa took a break during the coronavirus pandemic – but they are resuming this week after a couple of pilot trials to try out social distancing and COVID-19 prevention measures.
The recommendations call for clear shields to be worn in the courtrooms so jurors can both see and hear witnesses in the trials. There was a concern that more jurors would not show up because of the pandemic — but Supreme Court Justice Matthew McDermott says that was not the case in the pilot trials.
McDermott says they will watch for outbreaks in particular counties as part of the monitoring as the jury trials resume. He says the judges in each trial will make the decisions on proceeding.
And there is a protocol for which cases will be heard.
McDermott points out that a lot has been going on in the courts and with cases while the jury trials were put on hold. He says there have been filings, and motions and depositions being taken as everyone prepared to return.
Here in Delaware County, several jury trials are on the schedule for this fall and winter:
The trial for Kenneth Noble is scheduled to begin October 21st. Noble is charged with two counts of Attempted Murder after shooting at his landlord and Manchester Police Captain Rick Carnicle during an incident at his Manchester apartment in February.
Michael Briggs’ trial is also scheduled to begin October 21st. Briggs is charged with First Degree Theft. A state audit found that Briggs, who served as the former System Fund Development Director for Regional Medical Center, and former hospital CEO Lon Butikofer had accumulated over $256,000 in expenses for personal trips they claimed were for hospital business from 2009 to 2017.
Nathanial Ridnour, the Manchester man charged earlier this year with First Degree Murder for the 2004 death of a Keokuk woman, is scheduled for trial December 8th.
And Delaware County residents Revette Sauser and Bob Krogmann are getting new trials in January.
Sauser faced one count of First Degree Murder and several other charges in the shooting death of her husband, Terry, at their Ryan home in 2011. She accepted a plea deal before her trial was set to start in 2012, pleading guilty to second-degree kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter and going armed with intent. Sauser served about nine years in prison before the Supreme Court sent her case back for an actual trial after she appealed that there was no factual basis for the kidnapping charge.
And Krogmann has been granted a new trial. A jury had convicted him of Attempted Murder in 2009 for shooting his girlfriend three times. Krogmann served about eight and a half years in prison before the Supreme Court ruled there was a structural error in his case regarding the freezing of his assets.
Krogmann’s new trial is set to begin January 26th in Black Hawk County, while Sauser’s trial is scheduled to begin January 4th.
story contribution courtesy of Radio Iowa