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As State Attorney’s Office rolls back to phase 1, grieving families left in limbo

Delays in Duval County court proceedings mount

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The State Attorney’s Office confirms two assistant prosecutors are recovering at home after testing positive for COVID-19. This adds to mounting delays in Duval County court proceedings.

Barricades have stood in front of the Duval County Courthouse for the last several months as employees navigate the coronavirus pandemic. Not much foot traffic goes in or out.

As cases move forward behind the scenes due to COVID-19, Jo-Lee Manning, executive director of with the Justice Coalition, said the reality of the pandemic is like a domino effect, with grieving families feeling the brunt.

“Frustration, definitely, because all they want is justice for their loved one, and the process has really slowed down,” Manning said.

A spokesperson for the State Attorney’s Office confirmed it has rolled back to phase one, meaning its staff went from being 50% back to work in the building to 25%. Manning said she, herself, is experiencing a breakdown in communication with prosecutors. Her concern is the number of families the pandemic has left in limbo.

“We tell families that for a homicide, it can two years for it to go to trial. Now, we’ve basically added another year, just for 2020,” Manning said.

As the two assistant prosecutors who tested positive for COVID-19 recover from home, hearings continue to happen virtually. But jury trials have been suspended by the Florida Supreme Court through July 17. It’s uncertain whether that order will be extended.

“Some of the families aren’t even being given the links to participate and witness what’s going on. That’s really frustrating for them,” Manning said.

All they can do is wait and hope.


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