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District Attornet Ashley Welch Investigates Larger Spaces for Substitute Courtrooms During COVID-19 Pandemic

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District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch
43rd Prosecutorial District
Friday, June 26

District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said across the 43rd Prosecutorial District, in the state’s seven most-westernmost counties, court officials are identifying, examining and measuring large spaces for possible transformation into substitute courtrooms.

N.C. Chief Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley on May 21 ordered courts postpone all jury trials until August, because of COVID-19.

Many of the courtrooms in the far-west counties are too small to accommodate trials and maintain safe spacing – at least 6-feet apart – for those involved.

This week in Macon County, a group that included Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Bill Coward, District Attorney Ashley Welch and Macon County Clerk of Superior Court Vic Perry toured the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.

They decided on a possible jury room, discussed courtroom security and debated how best to space people in the audience area. The murder trial of Paul Snow, 53, accused of killing his mother and sister, is set for the Oct. 26th term of Macon County Superior Court. At least 100 potential jurors will be called to form the jury pool.

Selection of sites for jury trials is occurring in Haywood, Jackson, Swain, Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties, too, Welch said.


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