Grand Junction eyes future of virtual court

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) – After COVID-19, the phrase, you’ll have your day in court, does not always mean an actual court appearance. “The result of the courts realizing that we can do things remotely is actually a good thing for our community,” Dan Rubinstein, District Attorney says.

The court system originally shut down in March of 2020. “We had a lot of fear when that first happened,” Rubinstein said.

In Mesa County, a full year passed without a significant amount of jury trials causing a back log of cases. “We were afraid that the backup was going to result in having to cut some better deals to get some cases cleared out,” Rubinstein said.

As Senior Trial Prosecutor, George Holley says, they’ve always prioritized plea deals–but virtual courts make that easier. “They are a necessary part of our practice the real benefit though is how easy its been,” Holley said.

When COVID-19 first hit, a lot of jobs were lost but in court houses nationwide, the system prevailed using virtual tools. “The good news is our system is flexible enough to adapt,” Holley says.

Defendants now have more flexibility with their hearing, and can save travel costs by attending court from out of the state. “Its made it a lot easier on them or even out of county to appear and make their court dates without it being a financial drain,” Holley said.

The court house can be intimidating. “A lot of people were not coming to court because it required them to physically show up at a building they are unfamiliar with having to go through security,” Rubinstein said.

But now the ability to log on remotely via Webex encourages the community to engage in the court system. “And that would have never happened in the past, it would have been quite frankly impossible,” Holley said.

Source: Grand Junction Local News | Grand Junction eyes future of virtual court