Last week’s trial date falls victim to the same global pandemic Judge Noble has been working hard on helping Breathitt County manage!
Jeff Noble, the embattled Breathitt County Judge Executive who, along with Jackson Mayor, Laura Thomas, has done an admirable job steering the community through the present global pandemic, was in Court last week stemming from the charges which have been brought against him. The matter was supposed to be tried to a jury, as it had been set for trial.
The jury trial couldn’t “come off” as lawyers say. The reason, interestingly enough, is owing to the global pandemic local leaders, like Judge Noble, have been working tirelessly to manage in order to prevent the virus and the disease it causes from spreading.
The Court found it would be both dangerous and inconsistent with present containment efforts to bring in a venire for the purposes of conducting voir dire. For those who don’t know, a venire is a group of citizens summoned to court to be questioned in a process called voir dire.
The purpose of “voir dire” is to determine whether the venire can fairly and impartially hear a matter and render a verdict. If the veniremen questioned appear capable, and are acceptable to the Court, the government, and the defense, 12 of their number, plus an alternate or two, are then sworn-in and empaneled as jurors.
After the jury then hears the Commonwealth present its case and permits Judge Noble to proffer his defense, the alternates are dismissed. The remaining 12 then are sworn to a different oath than the one previously administered, and retire to deliberate until a verdict is returned.
The thee possible verdicts are “not guilty,” “guilty,” or, in cases where the 12 cannot agree on an outcome, the jury can “hang.” Should the jury “hang,” the Government can abandon the case or reset it to be tried to another jury.
Judge Noble’s jury trial was reset to January 22, 2021. The matter will either be tried that day, or should matters remain as they are visa vie the global pandemic, reset again until such time as the adversarial trial process is safe to proceed under the protections and guarantees afforded an accused.