Miami-Dade judge indicates how courts will navigate through coronavirus scare

MIAMI – During an early morning hearing, a Miami-Dade County judge provided a window into how the court is looking to handle the outbreak of COVID-19.

In Tuesday morning’s hearing for Michael Nates, the former MMA fighter facing several charges in two cases after police said he attacked a man and scuffled with officers last month, Judge Andrea Wolfson made an interesting comment from the bench about the intersection of cases and coronavirus.

"What we're trying to do, based on the whole coronavirus situation, is try to put cases out as far as we can," she said. That way, "people don't have to come to the courthouse if it's not necessary."

Nates’ defense attorney, Andrew Kassier, told Local 10 News it is the first time he is hearing a judge state on the record how they may be responding to the developing COVID-19 outbreak.

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“What the judge is saying is basically, to the extent that cases can be pushed off, without impacting a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, they’re trying to do that to try and limit the number of times that people have to come to court,” Kassier explained.

“We’re looking at a situation where on any given morning, between court staff, defendants who are in custody, people walking in off the street, and family members of those people coming into court, you’re looking at anywhere from 50 to 100 people coming into contact with each other in a courtroom,” Kassier said. “It’s not exactly the largest area and certainly not the most well ventilated.”

Call the state of Florida’s 24/7 hotline for COVID-19 at 1 (866) 779-6121 for assistance in connecting with your county health department or health care provider.

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