Administration of Justice Bulletin #2020/06

COVID-19 and Remote Testimony in Criminal Trials

Thursday, December 17, 2020

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across North Carolina, criminal jury trials have resumed in some districts following a six-month hiatus. Their resumption has raised a number of issues, among them whether the State may present remote testimony of its witnesses by electronic means to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus, as opposed to requiring them to appear in court. While courts may be sympathetic to concerns about contracting the disease, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution places significant limitations on their authority with respect to remote testimony. Absent extraordinary circumstances, criminal defendants must waive their right to face-to-face confrontation before remote testimony may lawfully be introduced against them.

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Public Officials - Courts and Judicial Administration Roles