Chesterfield jury trials delayed

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – There will be no jury trials in Chesterfield County Circuit Court for at least the next few weeks. The court missed the deadline to have the jury pool ready.

The jury commission should have been appointed in July, but the Circuit Court missed the deadline by five months. A pool of 10,000 possible jurors should be in place right now, instead the jury commission is scrambling to create the database.

"Typically the compiling of jury's runs like clockwork, it's something that takes place every year," said NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin.

In a statement to NBC12, Chief Circuit Court Judge Michael Allen takes responsibility saying, "The court acknowledges the oversight in taking the administrative steps necessary to create the jury pool and is taking steps to minimize any inconvenience."

"This is not a situation where the sky is going to fall on the criminal justice system in Chesterfield," said Benjamin.

Benjamin says this is the first time he's heard of this happening in the Commonwealth. One concern is too much time could pass and the case could be dropped because there is no jury to hear the case.

"Then prosecutors could temporarily dismiss the case and then re-indict," he said.

However, Benjamin says in criminal cases, people charged in violent or disturbing crimes wouldn't be released. There are laws to prevent that. The Commonwealth's Attorney says the delay should affect cases slated for the next 30 days. Only about a handful will have to be re-scheduled.

"Very, very few criminal cases get tried by jury's, because of that I see very little disruption to the system," Benjamin said.

Benjamin doesn't expect any case to be thrown out because he believes the deadline oversight was not intentional.

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