Courts across the state have worked to conduct hearings under Coronavirus guidelines these past couple of months. The ongoing pandemic has caused one Dawson County District Court jury trial to be pushed back from July. On Friday, a hearing was held in the animal neglect case pending against James Erwin of Sumner. The jury trial was set for July 14, 2020. Erwin’s attorney, Vikki Stamm, asked that it be continued until later in the year, in part, because of guidelines that would require jurors to wears masks in the courtroom. Stamm said that “at this point, I don’t feel as a defense attorney I can be effective for my client under the current restrictions.”
District Judge Jim Doyle replied that he didn’t know when mask restrictions would be removed. He continued that “my understanding of what the public health officials are saying is that this is a virus that right now is uncontrolled. We don’t have a vaccination for it, it continues to kill people and it is extremely contagious. And so I think it’s likely that this current description of guidelines from Centers for Disease Control and University of Nebraska Medical Center are going to stay in place for the foreseeable future.”
Stamm acknowledged that the guidelines could still be in place at the future set time and that she and her client would discuss their options as that date approaches. Dawson County Attorney Elizabeth Waterman did not object to a continuance. The new date and time for the jury trial was set for November 10, 2020 at 9:00am.