A rare day in Circuit Court

Normal public hearings of Floyd County's courts are, like so much else in today's topsy-turvy world, not something we see very much during these days of lockdowns and stay at home orders.

Spent part of the day Tuesday in Floyd County Circuit Court, covering hearings for The Floyd Press. I haven’t done that for a while. Courts, like so much else in these days of dealing with a pandemic, were suspended for much of March and the holding pattern remained after the Virginia Supreme Court extended the hold for another 21 days in April.

Yet, here we were for a plea agreement and several bond hearings.

Were things back to normal?

Not exactly. While Judge Marc Long, along with the Court Clerk, the bailiff, a deputy, the court reporter, Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Branscom, assistant Ryan Hupp and two defense attorneys were present, the only person in the gallery was the reporter for the paper — myself.

Normally, the benches in the gallery contain relatives, the public at large, witnesses and others but court sessions are closed to such attendees during the lockdown days.

Members of the press are allowed. That freedom is stated in the Supreme Court’s order.

The plea hearing was a fascinating story of a Meadows of Dan man who assaulted a relative’s double-wide with his pickup truck after finding his girlfriend alone with the relative at 3 or so in the morning just two days after Christmas last year.

According to a six-page “suicide note” left by the aggrieved boyfrind, he knew something intimate was going on the doublewide because his girlfriend always wore a miniskirt when she was “in the mood,” so to speak.

She was wearing, or partially wearing, such a garment in those wee hours of Dec. 27, 2019.

Want more details? Read the story in the next edition of the Press.

One of the bond hearings centered on a Riner man, facing charges involving child pornography, who wanted to get out of jail until a trial but evidence presented during the hearing noted that he had an earlier charge of sexual battery against a child relative.

No bail, declared Judge Long.

All of the bail hearings had the defendants, all currently in the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin, appearing before the judge in a video hookup. Only one for bail.

The judge holds drug court Wednesday, mostly through video connections, a safer way to conduct the closed hearings in this virus-affected days,

Another day in a world turned upside down here in Floyd County, throughout Virginia, the United States and the World in a time where more than a million are infected worldwide and hundreds of thousands in America, where more than 12,857 have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Most Aprils keep me busy covering the Circuit Court and photographing Spring sports at Floyd County High School for the paper. With school out for the remainder of the current academic year and most court hearings continued until at least next month, I — like so may others — find myself under employed.

Will we see another session in the courtroom in Floyd this month? If so, not many. Most cases are continued. Only emergencies may require a set of hearings like Tuesday.

Tuesday was also the first Circuit Court day in Floyd for the second quarter term of the court, a time for a grand jury to meet and consider indictments. That, too, is postponed. The second quarter might have a chance for the grand jury to meet in May or June.

In these extraordinary times, it just depends.

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© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse