MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — It’s back to masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing at Government Plaza in Mobile County amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
In addition to the coronavirus protocols being reimplemented, half of the county’s eight circuit judges will hold trials in a given week – two criminal and two civil. Fewer trials allows for adequate social distancing.
Judge Michael Youngpeter, the Presiding Circuit Judge, made the call to keep everyone safe and help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“The court system, we are summoning people, we are making them come to court either as parties to the case, as litigants or as witnesses. Last week, there were 24 deaths in Mobile County and one of them was the brother and law of my judicial assistant,” said Youngpeter.
While many understand the restrictions being reimplemented, some families said they’re frustrated with how long it’s taking to get justice. Nicole Harper’s son was murdered in 2020. She said it’s been a long fight to get peace.
“I feel that it’s a disservice to the family. I don’t think any case of this magnitude should take this amount of time due to the severity of the facts, my son being murdered, this is a long time for an indictment to wait for,” said Harper.
Youngpeter said he hears people’s frustrations but said the reality is that there isn’t a backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.
“The notion that there is some huge backlog in the court system right now is not true. I have less pending cases now than I did prior to the pandemic. The only cases that are not proceeding right now are capital death cases,” said Youngpeter.
Youngpeter said they will continue to monitor case numbers locally and will lift restrictions when it is safe to do so.