COVID-19 outbreak at San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office shuts down courtrooms

Ten days after the San Bernardino Justice Center reopened to the public, the courtrooms were shutdown because five members of the district attorney's office tested positive for the coronavirus.
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- Courtrooms shut down in San Bernardino Monday after several members of the district attorney's office tested positive for COVID-19.

Just 10 days after the San Bernardino Justice Center reopened to the public, criminal cases were abruptly called off Monday after fears of a possible outbreak became known over the weekend.

"I will tell you the concern is high," said Gardner.

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San Bernardino County public defender Christopher Gardner got the news over the weekend that 13 members of his team are now in quarantine after being in close contact with people inside the courtroom who later tested positive.

"As you know, the nature of the work, sometimes it does require confidential or private conversations between different members of court staffs, and in this case it appears as though some of those private conversations took place between my staff and members of the district attorney's office that subsequently tested positive for COVID-19," said Gardner.

Five members of the district attorney's office tested positive last week. With fewer people available, it means the so-called wheels of justice will move even more slowly, which impacts the people Gardner represents.

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"We don't really know if we can hold trials that protect their due process rights, we don't know what the diagrams of the court are going to look like, we don't know how many jurors are going to show up and want to participate in the process, that is all something we're gonna be looking for in the next week or two weeks as we move forward," said Gardner.

The plan is for criminal proceedings to resume at the San Bernardino Justice Center on Tuesday.

"I think this is a situation where we knew this was gonna happen when we opened back up, I think we're a little surprised at how quickly it happened, but hopefully it gives people pause and we are real conscientious and making sure we're doing everything we can," said Gardner.

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