CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina courts are largely closed in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.
All civil and criminal court cases are postponed unless meeting certain exceptions.
Charlotte attorney Kenneth Snow is worried if the pandemic lasts into Summer, a presumed innocent defendant may have to wait even longer before getting a trial. In the meantime, inmates in Mecklenburg County can’t see their family. The Mecklenburg County Detention Center has suspended all face-to-face and video visitation as a precautionary measure against COVID-19.
“People who are charged with crimes are charged with crimes, but they have family members who love them and are concerned,” Snow said. “Certainly any time family members can't see their loved ones or my clients can't see their loved ones, thats some stress on them.”
This week, a collection of community activists in Charlotte called for all pre-trial inmates who can't afford bond, be released.
“People in confinement have no control over their own movement and are held in close quarters without adequate resources for hygiene, creating the perfect conditions for the dangerous spread of COVID-19,” interim executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina Chantal Stevens said.
There's no sign pre-trial inmates will be released without paying bond.
“If they don't pose a danger to the community, they probably should be released,” Snow said. “But I'll leave that up to the judges.”
Anyone trying to check the status of their court proceedings should go to nccourts.gov.