Bessemer circuit court judge exposed to coronavirus, worries about impact to justice system.

Bessemer Judge self quarantined

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A Bessemer Circuit Court Judge is now in a self-imposed quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus.

Judge David Carpenter spoke to us by video Sunday, from his home. Carpenter said he found out that afternoon that an attorney he was in close contact with Friday tested positive for coronavirus.

Carpenter said he was unable get tested because the drive-up sites were closed on Sunday and he said the ER would not test him because he was not yet showing symptoms and they didn’t have enough tests.

Carpenter said the outbreak could have a major impact on the criminal justice system.

"Criminal defendants have a constitutional right. If they have the right to a speedy trial. They have a right, if they're in jail, to file a motion for bond to have a hearing. They have a right to be present for these hearings, so we had to keep going. And I would've been in court this week, tomorrow morning as a matter fact, but now that's got to be canceled. We've got to figure out something, what we're going to do," said Carpenter.

Carpenter said he stocked up on items for his home earlier that morning before he was aware he had been exposed.

Carpenter said courts will likely try to set up a video conferencing system but that has not yet been finalized.

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