The Behan Law Group, P.L.L.C.

520-220-5047

1-877-MISS-DUI / 1-877-647-7384

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945 N. Stone Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705
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Posted on in Legal

Pima County criminal defense lawyerWhen accused of a crime, everyone deserves a fair trial in court. That truth is embedded in the Constitution under the Sixth Amendment. But the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the integrity of those trials, leaving defendants at risk. With jury trials slowly beginning again in Pima County, it’s important to understand the ways COVID-19 can impact your right to due process.

The widespread use of face masks has emerged as one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of coronavirus, though it can have a troubling impact in trial proceedings. Each state has its own policy on wearing face masks in courthouses, and Arizona’s is relatively lenient. The Arizona Supreme Court mandated face masks for court employees, visitors and participants, but a judicial officer can let a testifying witness remove or pull down their mask while testifying—if it’s deemed necessary and appropriate physical distancing measures are followed.

When trial participants wear face masks, it can infringe on a defendant’s rights because obstructing someone’s face makes it impossible to assess their demeanor, which is one of the four key elements in the Confrontation Clause. The Confrontation Clause within the Sixth Amendment states that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”

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