“We are going to do everything we can to protect the citizens coming into the building.” said Wayne Gilkison, court administrator.
Masks are required in the hallways of the court wing, and those entering will have a temperature check at the security entrance, but it is up to individual judges to determine if masks must be worn in the courtroom.
Amison’s defense attorney, John Kaspar, said he has heard the courtroom referred to as the “plastic palace” and believes there are concerns with setup, including masks on witnesses.
“It is going to be interesting,” Kaspar said. “The way it is being approached may suggest the jury trial is too dangerous to proceed because we are in this bubble. It is rife with problems that could affect this trial, but the balance is (my client) also can’t wait forever.”
Kaspar said he wants to ensure the jury can both hear and see witnesses clearly.
“Certainly I object to anybody testifying in a mask so that you can’t see their face. Our evaluation of credibility of someone in our community requires that you have the ability to observe everything about them when the testify. You read body language and all sorts of things, if you can’t see that, it is a problem,” Kaspar said.
Amison remains housed in the county jail in lieu of $1 million bond.
“He has been sitting there patiently and at times impatiently based on the supreme court’s suspension of time, He maintains his innocence,” Kaspar said.
Gmoser said it will be up to the judge to decide how witnesses testify and in some cases wearing a mask may not be objectionable, such as giving data.
“I am not opposed to anybody testifying with a mask on. The words are what is important. If the defense feels that the expression of a person’s face is important to an understanding of a testimony, it is going to be up to a judge to make a call on that,” Gmoser said.
He added in the future he can see appeals across the state on this and other issues.