(News Service of Florida) - With grand jury proceedings suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, a statewide grand jury that has investigated the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is seeking to make sure it has enough time to conduct its work. Statewide Prosecutor Nicholas Cox, who is the legal adviser to the grand jury, filed an emergency petition Thursday at the Florida Supreme Court seeking clarification about the panel’s term.
The petition said the term is scheduled to end June 5, but Cox is seeking clarification that the time frame would be extended because of the coronavirus-caused suspension of proceedings. Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady has issued a series of orders designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The orders address various aspects of the court system, with the latest version suspending jury trials and grand-jury proceedings through July 2.
While the orders addressed providing additional days for other types of proceedings that have been suspended, Cox’s petition said the orders “do not specifically address the terms of grand juries, specifically the unique nature of the Statewide Grand Jury and its limited term.”
The petition asks the Supreme Court to provide the grand jury with the “same suspension of time periods that (it) has other court functions.” Gov. Ron DeSantis last year asked the Supreme Court to empanel the statewide grand jury to investigate the Feb. 14, 2018, school shooting in Broward County that killed 17 people. The grand jury issued a highly critical interim report in July.