Local courts are getting back to business after many court appearances were delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman wants those with hearings scheduled to know that they better show up for their court dates. Here are the four major points Prosecutor Tieman wants to convey.
Tieman said that criminal courts have worked hard to still attended to important matters while respecting social distance protocols.
“Both Judge Harcha and Judge Kuhn were able to work with my office and the various defense attorneys to have a number of hearings via teleconference or video conference. We have been able to hold arraignments, probation revocations, plea hearings and pre-trials. Certainly, there were jury trials that were pushed back due to not wanting to draw in a large number of civilians in close quarters for jury duty.”
Back To Jury Trials
But as Ohio opens up, there will be more jury trials. According to Tieman, “This month, we should see more transition towards jury trials. We do have jury trials scheduled this month. Some of those are likely to settle and the courts, prosecutors, and attorneys will discuss any that are currently set for trial this month on a case by case basis.”
There Will Be Consequences
The Scioto County Jail policy of only accepting inmates charged with serious crimes led to local officers issuing summonses for many crimes instead of making arrests. I asked the Prosecutor if he thinks folks who were caught and released will really show up for their court dates. He’s confident they will but warns of consequences if they don’t.
“I anticipate that a good number of them will show up. If they fail to do so, my office will not hesitate to request a warrant and indict them on additional felony charges. A Failure to Appear charge would potentially empower the court to send them to prison even when the underlying charge was a first offense and add an additional 18 months to their sentence. Once they miss court, they will likely have to be held in jail pending further order. So, it is in their best interests to show up.”
Tieman says it’s really all about safety. “At the forefront of our minds is ensuring that we eliminate or severely mitigate the risks of exposure to the public and trial participants. I can tell you that our courts and this office have been in constant contact with our associations, such as the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Ohio Judicial Conference. State-wide and Nationally, courts are dealing with this issue.”