SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A local attorney spoke to Western Mass News about what he called a significant delay in the proceedings at Springfield District Court. The defense attorney claimed clients weren't able to move their cases through the court promptly due to the pandemic.
Jury trials in Massachusetts were allowed to resume this week.
Attorney Joe Pacella claims Springfield District Court hasn't seen traditional jury trials in months, and only a few bench trials.
He said the pandemic has caused people to wait in jail much longer than they would've any other year.
"Most courts were running very smoothly before the pandemic," Pacella said.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Pacella said normal proceedings in Springfield District Court came to a grinding halt.
Even with safety protocols in place, he said the Springfield building, already plagued by environmental concerns, isn't ready to operate at a faster pace.
"We don’t have the social distancing room, the occupational capacity to operate. We don’t have the technological advances, and of course the HVAC system, there’s a lot of studies going on about how unhealthy the respiratory environment is in that building," he explained.
He told Western Mass News the court tends to operate fewer sessions per day because of reduced staffing, which means fewer bail and show cause hearings.
"If you can’t post bail, if you’re held under one of those two statutes either as a danger or because you committed a new offense, even a minor new offense, you’re stuck," he added.
He also said that causes a huge problem for his clients.
"Who essentially are spending more time in jail than they probably would end up with on the offense," he said.
His concern is that clients will feel pressure to agree to plea deals to get out of jail.
"People are going to make the choice, I think, dramatically to suffer convictions that are unwarranted and to waive their trial rights unnecessarily," he noted.
Pacella said to move through his cases, this week he just had his first show cause hearing for a case filed last March.