It was a short week for folks at the Hall County Courthouse, who after an early dismissal Tuesday won’t be returning to work until Friday morning at the earliest.
The wintry weather put a pause on an otherwise busy week on the fourth floor. Jury selection on two criminal trials concluded Monday in Superior Court.
In Judge Bonnie C. Oliver’s courtroom, where Atlanta man Jeffrey Hubbard is on trial on charges including homicide by vessel, court officials waited more than an hour for a juror vexed by the weather plan to take his seat in the jury box.
As court administrator, Reggie Forrester coordinates the inclement weather plan, consulting other county agencies and then court personnel to determine a course of action that keeps justice safely on track.
“Many things have to be considered,” Forrester said. “We have jurors, and we first have to be considerate with their safety. If school is closed and canceled, we need to consider that many jurors need to be with their kids. We have lawyers; parties; witnesses coming from Atlanta and even other states.”
The felony cases are already “well along” as Forrester noted, and consideration of judges’ schedules as the weather clears could further delay proceedings, but won’t hinder the process, he said.
“It won’t affect the cases, as far as the trial delays. They will pick up and start at the same point,” Forrester said. “Justice will be done. It will just be delayed.”
A decision regarding Friday court could be made today, or as late as early Friday, depending on how the weather unfolds, Forrester said.
Charges added in child sex trafficking case
Three Gainesville residents accused in a child sex trafficking case face new charges from a Hall County grand jury.
In the 15-page indictment from July, authorities alleged Maria Mercedes Vasquez-Quiroz was trafficking a 4-year-old girl for “sexual servitude” purposes to two men, Junior Alexander Delcid-Leon, 31, and Digno De Jesus Mejia, 36, between December 2010 and December 2012.
Delcid-Leon and Mejia were charged with offenses including child molestation, cruelty to a child in the first degree and rape. Vasquez-Quiroz was charged as a party to crimes.
Mejia and Vazquez-Quiroz were also indicted under Georgia’s recently established human trafficking statute, and charged with trafficking of a person for sexual servitude.
The charges added by a grand jury on Feb. 7 allege the victimization of a second child, a 2-year-old boy, and further crimes against the girl.
Delcid-Leon was charged with aggravated child molestation, child molestation, cruelty to a child in the first degree, rape and aggravated sodomy.
Mejia was charged with child molestation, cruelty to a child in the first degree, enticing a child for indecent purposes, trafficking of a person for sexual servitude, rape and child molestation.
Quiroz-Vasquez was charged with aggravated child molestation, child molestation, cruelty to a child in the first degree, enticing a child for indecent purposes, trafficking of a person for sexual servitude, rape and aggravated sodomy.
All three are being held in the Hall County Jail.
Emma Witman covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with her: