The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has led to a slowing of legal processes in Caddo Parish, as well as across the state of Louisiana and the nation as a whole.

The devastating effect COVID has had on the criminal justice system should be honestly and frankly addressed to the public by criminal justice leaders.

All in-person Caddo Parish court proceedings were suspended due to COVID emergency stay orders from either the Louisiana Supreme Court or our local judges beginning on March 16, 2020, through May 18, 2020, with jury trials being suspended until June 30, 2020.   The Caddo Courthouse was closed for six days due to unprecedented inclement weather in January and February 2021, causing further delays.  Moreover, the Caddo judges have currently suspended jury trials from January 10, 2022, until March 1, 2022.

Additionally, succeeding waves of COVID cases caused by variations of the virus, including the Delta and Omicron varieties, also have led to strictures, postponements,  and orders that have affected proceedings, especially jury trials.

Specifically in Caddo Parish, in the past two years since the start of the pandemic, 42 jury sessions were lost due to emergency orders from the judges, which shut down the courts. The loss of jury sessions by court order resulted in 210 unused days of court. Additional other COVID-caused delays have been caused by defendants, witnesses, jurors, lawyers, and judges contracting COVID, as well as limitations on transportation of inmates to court due to COVID issues. Caddo is not alone because these COVID-related delays have similarly affected other large Parishes such as East Baton Rouge, Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, and most if not all of the 42 Louisiana judicial districts.

Criminal activity in our area has not taken a COVID break and obviously adds to the load of cases to be heard in court.  The Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office led Louisiana in criminal jury trials by far during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the unprecedented and unforeseen delays in the court system.  All court personnel, including judges, clerks, ADAs, and defense attorneys have worked diligently to prevent a collapse of the criminal justice system.

We continue our steadfast push forward with trials against those charged with criminal wrongdoing as expeditiously as is possible for justice and the victims of crime