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Grand jury short on members

Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison Banks had to ask for additional grand jurors from the pool used by the circuit court after some moved or left for scheduled vacations and others were deemed too at-risk for COVID-19 to serve.

Under the law, a prosecutor has 60 days to bring an indictment, and the clock is ticking after months of closure due to the pandemic.

“Usually you have 15 or 16 (grand jurors),” Banks said, adding that that allows for alternates in case someone isn’t available. “You always lose a few in summer because of vacation, but then we had one lady moved away, she’s completely out of state. The judge said he would do what he can, but he doesn’t know how many he’ll have left.”

As of late last week, Banks said Letcher Circuit Judge James W. Craft II provided the five jurors he requested, but only four of those were able to attend. Banks said he hopes that’s enough for one more jury session.

“It’s just a difficult time right now, and I don’t think it’s going to get any better,” he said.

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