In a cynical attempt to elicit the court’s sympathy, the government blames Covid-19 for its delays in responding to motions to seal criminal records. Bureaucratic incompetence is the true culprit.
Hearings with respect to DPAs, DSAs and other diversion programs in Washington, D.C. will be postponed because of Covid-19. Although the agreements will remain in effect during this time, the government has discretion to terminate the agreements early.
D.C. Superior Court remains closed for most purposes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. What this means for criminal cases is as follows.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the time between March 18 and November 9, 2020 will be “tolled.” In other words, it will not count when calculating whether a defendant’s speedy trial rights have been violated.
With the D..C. Superior Court finance office now closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, courts costs, fines and fees can now be paid online or by mail.
With D.C. Superior Court now closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Civil Protection Orders (CPOs), Temporary Protection Orders (TPOs) and other forms of restraining orders must be obtained remotely.
The changes now being effected in response to the pandemic — specifically the trend toward on-line hearings — could pose challenges for new lawyers seeking to start criminal defense practices in D.C.
We will learn. We will adapt. But as with so many other things in our lives, there will be the pre- and the post-Covid eras. Things will never be the same.
How do you write about COVID-19 and the D.C. jail without resorting to hyperbole? How do you ask the judge to bend the rules?