Judge: Trials will remain on hold in 5th Judicial District courts
Trials in the 5th Judicial District’s courts in Eagle, Clear Creek, Lake and Summit counties are on pause because of the surge of coronavirus infections in Colorado.
While district courts remain open and operational with COVID-19 safety precautions in place and a preference for hearings done through electronic means, an administrative order issued this week by Chief District Court Judge Mark D. Thompson cancels and continues any district court jury trial scheduled to start before Jan. 19, 2021.
Thompson’s order essentially extends a moratorium on new trials in the 5th Judicial District that was put in place for Oct. 29 to Nov. 21.
“The judges of the 5th Judicial District have conferred and are in agreement that a temporary moratorium on the commencement of additional jury trials is necessary and appropriate to safeguard against additional COVID-19 health issues and to reduce potential for the spread of illness among the public, attorneys, litigants, law enforcement, and court and probation staff,” Thompson writes in the order.
Jury trials throughout Colorado were suspended by order of the Colorado Supreme Court starting in mid-April because of the coronavirus, and did not resume in the 5th Judicial District until early August, according to the order.
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District court trials are on hold in many other parts of Colorado, including in Garfield and Pitkin counties in the 9th Judicial District and in Grand, Moffat and Routt counties in the 14th Judicial District.
Joe Kirwan, chief deputy for the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said the latest moratorium on new trials in the district will affect at least five criminal trials scheduled, including a trial for Enrique Echevarria-Castro, who faces felony drug charges.
Echevarria-Castro was arrested in Eagle County in September 2018 after a sheriff’s deputy found him in possession of 5 pounds of methamphetamine. His trial was scheduled to begin in May 2019 but he failed to appear after posting $50,000 bond. He was arrested by state and federal agents in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020 after he allegedly received 1 pound of methamphetamine in the mail, and was then extradited back to Eagle County after posting bond in that case, according to Kirwan.
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at email@example.com.