In a new order issued last week, Trammell indicated she will consider the continuance request at the videoconference hearing.
The judge noted that Putnam County has called in grand jurors and has been holding in-person court proceedings for both criminal and civil matters, all the while following mandated protocols for courtroom safety. These proceedings have occurred “without incident,” the judge said, although she did not specify how she knew that to be so.
Donnie Rowe (left) and Ricky Dubose, after their arrest in 2017. They are accused of killing two Georgia correctional officers. (AJC file photo)
Credit: George Mathis
Credit: George Mathis
In a recent motion asking Trammell to consider holding Monday’s hearing remotely, the defense team cited health statistics that show the risk of getting COVID-19 in Putnam was “extremely high.” They noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to protect yourself and reduce the spread is to limit interactions with others as much as possible.
Even though she relented to the videoconference hearing, Trammell expressed her misgivings about it.
“(T)his court does not believe proceeding other than in person is necessary, desirable or proper in this case, other than on any but the current scheduling, and specifically, continuance issues,” she wrote in her order. A hearing tentatively set for March 31 on evidentiary issues is to be an in-person court proceeding, she said.
On Sunday, Hogue, who is at greater risk because he is 66, said the defense team has no comment on Trammell’s latest order.
At the urging of Chief Justice Harold Melton, judges across the state have been holding videoconference hearings instead of requiring lawyers and litigants to show up in court during the pandemic. Jury trials are currently suspended because of safety concerns, although Melton has indicated he may allow them to resume in the coming months.
If the Rowe trial proceeds as planned, jury selection will begin April 5 in Grady County, because of pretrial publicity. Once jurors are picked there, they will be taken to Eatonton for the trial at the Putnam courthouse.