Ohio prosecutors have backlog of cases, courtrooms not expected to fully reopen until June

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Right now many victims and cases are in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic. Court systems all across Ohio are looking at how to handle the volume of cases that haven't been touched in weeks and new cases too.

In Fairfield County, Prosecutor Kyle Witt says they've been working diligently to figure out how to give those arrested and victims their day in court.

The county's grand jury met for the first time today in weeks.

"We're resuming today, we're limiting the number of people in that room. We are providing masks and gloves and social distancing," said Witt.

Witt says he doesn't know the exact number of cases that are backlogged, but they do have them.

He says arrests overall in the county are down because police have changed their procedures.

"They're taking more complaints over the phone and only responding to cases when necessary," Witt says that's helping.

In Franklin County, it's a different picture.

The court system has been open, scaled back, but Prosecutor Ron O'Brien says there are still cases waiting to be addressed.

"I went down to our grand jury unit and usually there's one file drawer waiting presentation, but when I checked it the other day, there were three," O'Brien said.

He says the county is now holding grand jury two to three times a week and those who have been arrested can be arraigned through a video system.

O'Brien says court will reopen fully the first week of June and the courtroom will look different.

"They're making changes to the courtroom. I've seen that they have constructed Plexiglas in between parties and jurors. And there's a sign on the courtroom doors that says to wear a mask," he said.

Both O'Brien and Witt say as their county courts get fully operational, their respect for the law and the safety of victims, suspects and their staff is their top priority.

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