ST. LOUIS – Political ideology may affect court-management decisions, according to a recent study by Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.

The study looked at the 24 states that have multiple federal districts, and COVID safety decisions made between March 2020 and July 2021. Republican President Donald Trump was in office during this time. He appointed more than 200 federal judges during his term.

Washington University researchers said districts that switched from having a Democrat-appointed chief judge to a Republican-appointed chief judge were less likely to require mask-wearing in courtrooms. However, those same districts were more likely to suspend civil and criminal trials.

Researchers said the U.S. is unlikely to experience a scenario that is exactly like the COVID pandemic again. However, they called for more research into how political ideology could affect future court management decisions. They also pointed out COVID shutdowns affected defendants’ Sixth Amendment, the right to a trial without unnecessary delays.