‘Will the Court Object to Me and My Client Wearing Masks in the Courtroom,’ Defense Asks

During a preliminary hearing March 11, a defense attorney asked if it would be okay if he and his client wore masks in the courtroom after a witness came down with symptoms resembling those of the Coronavirus. 

Juvon Julian Searles, 39, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting 46-year-old Paul Williams, Jr. on the 800 block of R Street, NW on July 24, 2018. 

The prosecution was set to call a detective who worked the scene to testify. The detective, however, has recently come down with flu-like symptoms and a high fever. 

His symptoms resemble those of COVID-19, a virus that was recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. 

While the prosecution said that the detective was feeling better and could testify, DC Superior Court Judge Neal Kravitz said “even though he apparently feels better today, it would be utterly irresponsible for me to have him come here today and interact with everyone in this courthouse.”

Judge Kravitz asked the prosecution if the detective has been monitoring his temperature, and they responded that they weren’t sure, but that he said he was feeling better. 

He issued a one week continuance, and told the prosecution to confirm for the court that the detective has been taking his temperature and is fever-free for 72 hours prior to the hearing. 

James King, Searles’ defense attorney, asked Judge Kravitz if he and his client could wear face masks when the detective testified. 

The prosecution did not object and Judge Kravitz said it was okay. 

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for March 16. 

This article was written by Jailynn Caraballo and MiriYam Judd.