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Could Zoom jury trials become the norm during the coronavirus pandemic?

By Steven P. Berne |

As criminal courts grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, some in the legal industry wonder whether a virtual jury trial could be next. Just weeks ago, the idea might have seemed inconceivable. Now, as remote meetings using videoconferencing tools such as Zoom become a regular fixture in courts, some are concerned that virtual trials would… Read More »

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Problems with Courts reopening in Georgia

By Steven P. Berne |

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton warned state judges Monday that they could face judicial discipline if they continue to ignore COVID-19 health guidelines. Melton plans to extend an emergency order this week, and this time he plans to include “stronger, more mandatory language” about the need to follow health directives, he said…. Read More »

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What does “Inciting a Riot” mean in Georgia?

By Steven P. Berne |

Many people are unsure of the differences between affray, riots, and inciting a riot in Georgia. All of these crimes are a disturbance of the peace, but they are all different. It is important to know the subtle distinctions between each crime. All of them are charged as misdemeanors in Georgia.  Georgia Law O.C.G.A…. Read More »

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U.S. Court and Georgia Closings, Cancellations and Restrictions Due to COVID-19

By Steven P. Berne |

In response to public health guidance related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), many U.S. courts (state and federal) and agencies adjusted the way they operate.   Each court is making its own modifications under the circumstances and have included, among other things: closing courthouses, restricting courthouse access, continuing trials, cancelling non-case related activities, and rescheduling or permitting… Read More »

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The Latest on COVID-19 Compassionate Release

By Steven P. Berne |

The outbreak of COVID-19 among the Bureau of Prisons’ facilities has been well-documented by now. The Director of the BOP recently announced that, of the few thousand inmates had been tested by the end of April, 70% tested positive for COVID-19. While Attorney General Barr has issued guidance urging the BOP to “maximize” its use of home confinement,… Read More »

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Lower Federal Sentences in 2019

By Steven P. Berne |

The First Step Act is becoming a reality. Essentially, the bill will allow thousands of people to earn an earlier release from prison and could cut many more prison sentences in the future. Here are the major provisions of the First Step Act: The bill will make retroactive the reforms enacted by the Fair… Read More »

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What Are a Person’s Rights When They’re Accused of a Crime?

By Steven P. Berne |

The U.S. Constitution guarantees some very basic rights to any citizen who is accused of a crime. The biggest right of all is the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In other words, until and unless it can be proven without any doubt that you committed a crime, you will be considered… Read More »

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Can My Criminal Record be Restricted if I Pled Guilty Under the Conditional Discharge Act?

By Steven P. Berne |

Recently, Georgia law changed in regards to the ability of other persons to discover whether you pleaded guilty to a first offense charge. That change leads to the question, “Can my criminal record be restricted if I pled guilty under the Conditional Discharge Act?” Under the Conditional Discharge Act (O.C.G.A § 16-13-2) certain first… Read More »

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