Special Masters Can Ease COVID-19 Criminal Case Backlog
Published Aug. 6, 2020
Hon. Thomas I. Vanaskie (Ret.)
What can the Middle District of Pennsylvania — and other courts that adopt similar procedures in order to conduct criminal jury trials [during the COVID-19 pandemic] — do about this exacerbating problem? One approach that has not received much attention, but has significant promise, is to enlist the services of private judicial adjuncts, otherwise known in the federal court system as special masters, to assist the judicial administration of criminal matters in the ongoing COVID-19 landscape.
This article explains the legal bases for the appointment of special masters in federal criminal cases, and outlines some possible roles of special masters in such cases.