Grand Jury proceedings suspended in Fairbanks District Court due to rising COVID cases

Rabinowitz Courthouse in downtown Fairbanks.
Rabinowitz Courthouse in downtown Fairbanks.(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 7:00 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - After grand jury proceedings were allowed to continue in June of this year, the Fairbanks District Court has decided to once again temporarily suspend proceedings due to rising COVID case counts in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, grand jury proceedings were suspended beginning March 23, 2020 and the time limits for preliminary examination under Alaska Criminal Rule 5(e) were extended. Grand jury proceedings were permitted to once again resume beginning June 1, 2020. Due to the diligence and productivity of grand jurors, the district attorneys offices, and court staff, the backlog of grand jury proceedings has been eliminated district wide. After the backlog was eliminated the judge restored the original time limits for preliminary examination under Criminal Rule 5(e).

Going forward due to the rising case levels within the district and the community transmission rates in Fairbanks, a further extension of time for preliminary examination is needed and the time limits have once again been extended under Criminal Rule 5(e).

This temporary pause of the grand jury proceedings is necessary to allow time to reassess the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 response measures in the context of the current community case counts and transmission rates and to allow time for public health officials and the Fairbanks community to bring rates down.

The administrative order put out by the Superior Court for the State of Alaska Fourth Judicial District at Fairbanks, was released on Wednesday October 14.

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