The Maine court system on Monday postponed all but emergency matters through the month of May, meaning six murder trials in addition to other jury trials and grand jury sessions will have to be rescheduled.
The court system’s move on Monday extends a March 17 order delaying nearly all civil and criminal matters that was set to expire at the end of the day on May 1.
Jury trials and grand jury sessions will not be held in April and May.
The deadline for dealing with traffic tickets was extended to May 29.
The six murder trials scheduled for April and May that will be moved include two involving homicides in 2017, the longest pending murder cases in the state, according to the Maine Attorney General’s office.
The jury trial of Carine Reeves, 39, of New York City was set to begin May 18 at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor for the shooting death of Sally Shaw, 55, of New Gloucester. Her body was found by a passing motorist on Route 193 in Cherryfield on July 19, 2017, according to court documents.
Reeves’ trial was delayed after his arrest on unrelated charges in New York. He was returned to Maine in January. Defense attorneys, prosecutors and the judge agreed to move the trial to Bangor.
The jury trial of Savannah Smith, 22, of Bucksport was set to begin the same day in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth. Smith is accused of killing 2-year-old Kloe Hawksley in 2017. Smith was dating and living with Kloe’s father, Tyler Hawksley, when the girl died in the mobile home where they lived on Central Street.
Reeves and Smith are being held at the Washington County Jail and the Hancock County Jail, respectively.
Courthouses now will be open only four hours a day, mainly to handle emergency matters including first appearances of arrestees, requests for protection from abuse and harassment orders, and mental health and child protective matters. Not all courthouses will be open every day.
The state court system is encouraging the use of video conferencing whenever possible and allowing motions in emergency criminal, child protection and mental health matters to be filed by email.
Federal courts in Portland and Bangor are handling all matters by teleconference.
For people who are unable to pay their fines, the courts earlier this month extended the dates on which defendants owe fines, fees, restitution and attorney fee reimbursements in criminal cases to May 4 or to another ordered due date in May, whichever is later. That order remains in place.
People are asked to check the court system’s website, courts.maine.gov/maine_courts/schedules/closings.shtml, or call 207-753-2999 before going to a state courthouse.
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