Local lawyers downsize staff amid courtroom closures due to COVID-19

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Courthouses that are normally bustling in larger counties were noticeably quiet on Tuesday after all courtrooms were closed and routine services, like record requests and legal filings, were shut down due to COVID-19 concerns.   

It’s a harsh reality for lawyers like Mark Reichel, who makes his living making court appearances and filings in both criminal and civil cases.

Most scheduled court actions are being continued. In legal jargon, that means delayed.

“The American legal industry is a really big industry and it has ground to a complete halt,” explained Reichel. “They are continuing all criminal trials, all civil trials, all civil motions, really, are shut down and are not occurring.”

Reichel told FOX40 he has put his legal secretary on leave along with several part-time staffers.

“Most small practitioners are really almost completely shut down. The larger law firms are having their employees work remotely,” said Reichel

But with court actions moving slowly, attorneys may soon run out of things to do.

It’s not just individual attorneys that will be hurt by this emergency health crisis, it affects the entire legal industry.

“From the receptionists to the secretaries, legal assistants, paralegals, investigators. Then there are the parallel industries, OK. Court reporters and so forth,” said Reichel.

Reichel is concerned about the rights of those who are charged with a crime and who must stay behind bars without getting a chance to prove their innocence.

“Their day in court has been taken away through no fault or out of their control,” said Reichel.

There could be a handful of attorneys who get more work after the crisis is over, filing appeals on behalf of clients who may not have gotten due process in a timely matter when their cases were before the courts. 

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