Criminal courts reopen in Shelby County, jury trials to begin this month

WATCH: Criminal courts reopen in Shelby County

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — It’s been months since criminal courts have been open to try some of the most heinous cases in Memphis. Thursday that changed.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich says courts have restarted, but it could be a patient process before they begin to look into those cases.

The original order that was signed by the criminal court judges lifted the stay and said that courts can go back to jury trials in October. Many families say they’ve been waiting for trials to restart since its suspension in March.

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“There are many women and men hurting right now because they couldn’t go to court now that court was stopped cause of COVID. That’s the worst thing that could’ve happened because my family has been waiting for 10 years and then here comes COVID,” said Deborah Marion.

Marion is still waiting for justice in the death of her son Lorenzen Wright.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich says there’s still a lot of planning that goes into creating the safest environment possible for trials, even when the courts are hundreds of cases behind schedule.

“We are hundreds of hundreds of cases backlogged due to the pandemic. The sooner that we can get cases back to trying cases to a jury and doing it in a safe and smart way, the better,” Weirich explained.

Weirich says there are no courts that are docketed for early October. They’re working to get members of the public to help in the process by serving as jurors and witnesses.

“On average we try about 200 jury cases a year here, so they’re an important piece of the criminal justice system,” said Weirich.

Families like Lorenzen Wright’s say it’s been a long road and COVID has only made it longer, but they hope for peace and justice.

“We’re about to get something done. We’re going to move to another phase because we still need to know who murdered Lorenzen Wright,” said Marion.

“Being able to provide that closure for a victim or a victim’s family is very important,” Weirich said.

The plan is for the first case to be looked at in the coming days.

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