Tulsa County Jury Trials Canceled For September
TULSA, Oklahoma - A flooded basement is changing a lot of schedules at the Tulsa courthouse as judges decided to cancel jury trials for a month while repairs are underway where jurors normally meet.
After a day of evaluating the mess caused by a flood, Tulsa County's judges decided to cancel jury trials for all of September.
In a new release Tuesday afternoon Michael Willis, Chief Deputy County Commissioner, announced that jury duty for the weeks of September 15-19 and September 22-26 is canceled.
He said jurors who were summoned for the weeks of September 15-19 and September 22-26 should not report to the courthouse for jury duty.
Jurors normally would be waiting for assignments in the basement, rooms that are now, instead, being cleared out and aired out.
Presiding Judge Carlos Chappelle said some civil trials will be pushed back several months, but they'll try to catch up on criminal trials in October.
"So what's going to happen for those three weeks, we're only going to do criminal trials and we're also going to have eight civil judges do criminal trials,” Chappelle said.
Movers cleared out the furniture downstairs so repairs can begin.
The county expects the operation to take several weeks, and though the jury room was the one least affected, there will be so much disruption the judges decided it was better to wait.
Court Clerk, Sally Howe-Smith said jurors called for September don't have to respond.
“They're not off the hook for next month. They might be recalled sometime in the future, but as far as I know, they're excused and dismissed,” she said.
The courtrooms are mostly silent, because much of the docket this week involved juries. They'll start back in mid-October.
Criminal defense attorney M.J. Denman said the delay can help prosecutors build a case or give defense attorneys time to tear it apart.
“Time is helpful on both sides. Sometimes a delay is helpful to both sides. For the defense, eye-witnesses testimony, the least reliable evidence, with time memories erode, they wear away,” Denman said.
Right now the plan is to restart criminal jury trials October 20th.
Several murder trials were going to start this week and next; now the prosecutors are working through rescheduling witnesses, while entire new pools of jurors are being selected to serve.