With 283 people on the grand jury indictment list, Raleigh Co. Circuit Court ramps up safety measures

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Because of the cancelled May grand jury, Raleigh County had to double up in the fall returning 283 indictments in September.

As arraignments began on Thursday for all defendants who were indicted, guidelines were put in to place to make sure everyone was masked and spaced out.

For starters, usually all defendants on a judge’s docket will be in the courtroom together along with their attorneys, so Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller says it took some work behind the scenes from multiple departments to limit who was in the courtroom and how much space each person would have.

“I got with the public defender’s office which was most cooperative, and we worked together ,so we have signed all the orders, prepared the orders, signed the orders and got them e-filed with our new e-filing system before we came to court as much as possible,” Keller said.

Typically, Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Dimlich would hear his full docket in one sitting. This time, it has been split up into four sessions in two days by last name and video conferencing will be used when possible or preferred.

“So it varies by judge, and the Supreme Court has encouraged everyone as much as possible to preform video or electronic court proceedings,” Keller said.

Masks are required and cleaning and sanitizing products are on standby while all defendants who are not already in prison or jail are in the halls spaced out.

Because of the caseload and spacing, what typically ends up taking days is now predicted to take weeks.

“Judge Kirkpatrick will start on Monday then we’ll have Judge Burnside and then we’ll have Judge Poling, and I believe we go through the early part of November before we’re done,” Keller said.

Arraignments will continue on Friday starting at 9 a.m. in Judge Dimlich’s court room.

Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.