Update from the 2nd District Court and In Person Hearings

FROM THE SECOND DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS RE: RESUMPTION OF IN-PERSON HEARINGS

WHEN:

We are currently contemplating returning to in-person court on September 1, 2021. In-person court can resume if the courts are in Yellow as long as appropriate precautions are taken. If the virus count prompts a return to Red, in-person hearings will only take place if there is exigency on a case-by-case basis.

HOW:

Until the court is in Green, everyone coming to the courthouse will need to wear a mask, even if vaccinated. Court patrons will be responsible for maintaining appropriate social distancing in the hallways. Masks must be worn at all times except when directly addressing the court.

Other than witnesses for evidentiary hearings, each party will be limited to TWO observers/support persons. When seated in the gallery, each group will be responsible for seating themselves at least 6 feet apart. At the bailiff’s discretion, patrons may be admitted to the courtroom one hearing at a time.

At the conclusion of each hearing, counsel, the parties, and observers will need to wipe down any surfaces they touched with sanitizing wipes. Sanitizing wipes will be provided for this purpose. Patrons are requested to leave the courthouse as soon as their hearing is completed.

PROTECTIVE ORDERS:

Protective order litigants may only bring ONE observer/support person. Additional security and volunteers will hopefully be available to assist in maintaining order and distancing during large protective order calendars. Because of the limited space available in the courtrooms, not all parties will be allowed in the courtroom at the same time. Efforts will be made to serve new orders electronically so that parties are not waiting for copies of orders.

CAVEATS:

  1. At the discretion of the commissioner conducting the hearing, the courtroom may be closed to everyone except those essential to conducting the hearing.
  2. The transition process will be fluid, and there may be unexpected difficulties. Please be patient and understand that these procedures may require adjustment as we go forward.
  3. Each commissioner may, at his or her discretion, continue to conduct certain types of hearings remotely even after COVID restrictions are no longer in place. Notice of this will be provided at the time the hearing is scheduled.
  4. If you have any questions about whether to appear in person, please contact the assigned commissioner’s team via the commissioner’s team email address.