The pandemic led to the closures of many courtrooms. Now, work and trials are backed up, and it's unclear what the future, in some ways, will look like.

"I mean, it is a mess. It is a total mess," said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol.

What You Need To Know

  • Many courts have been closed for months, so work is backed up
  • Sometimes search warrants were unable to be issued
  • There are concerns about how trials will take place

In addition to not being able to get search warrants for certain cases, the Oneida County sheriff says many cases aren't being indicted due to no grand juries being summoned.

"Just making an arrest of any kind, and having to make the court date two months off into the future. The backlog on the court system, and certainly the DA will explain that a lot better than I can, the backlog on the court system is just overwhelming at this point," Maciol said.

The Oneida County district attorney does say there's backlog, but that's not all he's focused on.

"What the 5th Judicial District has done is they've asked each county to come up with their own plan because each county's courtrooms and where the DA's office is and all those things are unique," said Oneida County DA Scott McNamara.

From considering how to safely move jurors and witnesses, to finding ways to clean handles after every person touches them, to figuring out what to do if a potential juror doesn't want to wear a mask and upgrading technology for the changes.

Pandemic adaptations look timely and costly.

"I've been already instructed; I have to cut my budget by 15 percent and I'm looking at additional costs that I've never had to pay before," McNamara said.

He has another concern.

"What happens when one person gets it and now everybody else has been exposed, maybe not got it but exposed, and right now they encourage everyone to quarantine. So we lose our whole grand jury,” he said.

The Oneida County DA says grand juries are expected to start being summoned again on July 21.