Oh wow, this Order is worth a read.
I consider the trial by jury as the only anchor, ever yet imagined by man, by which a
government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
The United States Constitution protects our fundamental freedoms and liberties. One of the most important rights guaranteed by the Constitution is the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to a public and speedy trial. It protects against undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial and it allows the accused the ability to defend himself against the criminal charges before evidence becomes lost or destroyed and witnesses’ memories fade. But the Sixth Amendment protects much more than just the rights of the accused. It also protects the rights of all of us. It gives each of us called for jury service a voice in our justice system. And it holds the government accountable to the principles of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson and the other Framers of the Constitution wisely recognized that without jury trials, power is abused and liberty gives way to tyranny. Given the constitutional importance of a jury trial to our democracy, a court cannot deny an accused his right to a jury trial unless conducting one would be impossible. This is true whether the United States is suffering through a national disaster, a terrorist attack, civil unrest, or the coronavirus pandemic that the country and the world are currently facing. Nowhere in the Constitution is there an exception for times of emergency or crisis. There are no ifs or buts about it. Sadly, the United States District Court for the Central District of California has denied Defendant Jeffery Olsen his Sixth Amendment right to a public and speedy trial on the criminal charges that were filed against him in this case. Specifically, the Chief Judge for the Central District refused to summon the jurors necessary to conduct Mr. Olsen’s trial that was scheduled for October 13th of this year, believing it was too unsafe to conduct the trial during the coronavirus pandemic even if significant safety precautions were in place. Most troubling, the Chief Judge refused to summon jurors for Mr. Olsen’s trial even though grand juries have been convening for months in the same federal courthouse in Orange County where his trial would take place and state courts just across the street from that federal courthouse are conducting criminal jury trials. Clearly, conducting a jury trial during this coronavirus pandemic is possible. Yet the Central District prevented the Court from even trying to do so for Mr. Olsen. Because the Central District denied Mr. Olsen a public and speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment, this Court now must dismiss the indictment against him.
The L.A. Times covers it here
A federal judge in Santa Ana on Wednesday dismissed an indictment against a Newport Beach physician accused in a drug distribution case, ruling that his constitutional rights to a jury trial were denied due to an order barring trials in the federal courthouse in the Central District of California during the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney dismissed the indictment against Jeffrey Dove Olsen with prejudice, so prosecutors could not just file another case against him or seek another indictment from a grand jury. Prosecutors could appeal the ruling with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Olsen was indicted in July 2017 on 35 counts that alleged he prescribed and distributed “large amounts of oxycodone, amphetamine salts, alprazolam and hydrocodone to confidential sources, an undercover agent and numerous addicts without a legitimate medical purpose over the course of three years,” according to federal prosecutors who said two of the doctor’s patients died from overdoses of pain medication.
The issue came to a head this week when Olsen refused to waive any
more time for his trial, but U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez,
the chief judge of the Central District, refused to budge on the
prohibition of jury trials at this time.
“Quite frankly, the court
is at a loss to understand how the Central District continues to refuse
to resume jury trials in the Orange County federal courthouse,” Carney
wrote in his ruling as he noted various other federal agencies have
offices that are open and that first responders still report to work, as
well as employees in essential businesses.
restaurants are open for outdoor dining and reduced-capacity indoor
dining,” Carney added. “Nail salons, hair salons, body waxing studios,
massage therapy studios, tattoo parlors and pet groomers in Orange
County are open, even indoors, with protective modifications.”