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Eastern District to allow remote criminal hearings

Pursuant to Congressional authorization, the federal courts of the Eastern District of Virginia may use video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings.

A March 30 order cites legislation passed by Congress on March 27 authorizing the use of remote conferencing under certain circumstances and with the consent of the defendant for various “criminal case events” during the pandemic emergency.

The legislation is The CARES Act, H.R. 748. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis invoked § 15002(b)(1) to authorize the use of video conferencing or telephone conferencing if video is not reasonably available.

Davis made a finding that felony pleas Under Rule 11 and felony sentencings under Rule 32 cannot be conducted in person without seriously jeopardizing public health and safety.

As a result, if a judge finds specific reasons that a felony plea or sentencing cannot be further delayed without serious harm to the interests of justice, the judge may use video conferencing or teleconferencing. That same authority applies to juvenile cases, the order said.

The authorization lasts for 90 days.