COVID-19 trial shutdown has left Macon courts with 936 case backlog, years of work

Video, Jason Vorhees/The Telegraph

Murder cases are not like fine wine. They don’t typically get better with age. At least for prosecutors.

Drawn-out cases, the thinking goes, can wither as witnesses forget details and sometimes die, or as evidence, from time to time, gets misplaced or lost.

It is debatable which side if any — the government or the defense — stands to benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic-caused halt to jury trials across the country.

“It can be argued that it cuts both ways,” said Towaliga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jonathan L. Adams, who oversees cases in Monroe, Lamar, and Butts counties.

But in general, he said, “Delay is the friend of the defense.”

However, a defendant awaiting trial and unable to post bond while locked in a crowded jail during a pandemic likely has more immediate concerns. And the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to “a speedy and public trial.”

“When you’re in custody …there’s no way of knowing when you’re going to get your trial,” Macon defense attorney Laura Hogue said.

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