Municipal Court Protocols
Judge Ayers has indicated that he will accept pleas on some cases that normally require a court appearance. If you would like to enter a plea on a case that is not payable in the violations bureau, please email the judge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The court has now begun to send out notices of video conference settings. If you receive a notice and have questions please contact the court more than five (5) days prior to your video conference. If you would like to request a video conference setting please email the court at the address noted above.
When court resumes in person settings, there will be a number of protocols put in place to continue fighting the Cofid-19 virus. These will include limits on the number of people allowed in the court room at one time, social distancing, the use of masks and other requirements.
Tentative Continuity of Operation Plan
The number of people who will have access to court settings will be limited. Only those who have business with the court will be allowed in the courtroom.
The number of cases to be set on individual dockets will be limited to the number based on expected appearance rates.
Court dates assigned by police officers will be changed immediately upon reaching the target number. The target number will be adjusted as needed.
Additional dockets will be added as needed.
On court nights, the following procedures will be initiated:
a. A site will be set up outside the court building manned by at least one police officer.
b. Each person desiring to enter the court will be asked the following questions:
- Have you experienced a fever, have trouble breathing, persistent cough, body aches, and/or loss of taste or smell within the last 24 hours?
- Have you been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed, tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19?
- Temperatures will be taken of everyone prior to entering the building.
- If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions or the temperature of the individual is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit the individual will be provided with a continuance for their court date and will be sent home.
c. No one will be allowed to enter the building unless they are wearing a face mask.
d. A maximum of 10 people will be allowed to enter the building at one time. Names, license numbers, cellular telephone numbers and vehicle description will be obtained from defendants who will be notified by telephone call, text message, or in person when the court is prepared for them to enter.
e. Markings will be placed on the wall, floor, and other appropriate places a minimum of six feet apart in various locations providing guides for proper social distancing. Court personnel/police officers will monitor all areas to insure that people are not congregating and are maintaining social distancing while entering and exiting the building.
f. All court personnel, including the judge, will be in the courtroom behind plexiglass windows (there are 3 of them) and all court business will be conducted at that location. Defendants (no more than 10 at one time) will line up at that location for pleas of guilty or not guilty, motions, sentencing and other court business, and dealings with court clerk(s), each at separate windows. Trials, if any, will be conducted as usual at the bench in the courtroom with social distancing observed. There will be no seating for defendants unless a defendant requires it, to reduce contact with chairs and other things in the building and reduce the potential for contamination.
g. Defendants will enter the building at one location and exit through another location, thereby reducing contact between defendants and reducing the potential for contamination.
h. All court personnel shall wear masks and gloves.
i. All of these procedures shall apply to attorneys as well as defendants.
Attorneys who wish to see the prosecuting attorney will be seen in a different part of the building, but will be encouraged to use other methods as set out hereafter in “Alternate Means for Court Operations”.
Compliance with CDC and DPH directives
In addition to all procedures set out above, Court personnel will constantly clean and disinfect the office area. City maintenance workers shall clean and disinfect courtroom and other public areas on an ongoing basis, and in particular on court nights, before, during, and after court sessions. Hand sanitizer is available at all entrances. The City will provide face masks and gloves for all court employees, and face masks for defendants during court sessions if they do not have their own, if available.
Alternate means for Court Operations
The Court and prosecutor’s office have reached out to attorneys with options for video and telephone conferencing. Attorneys will be notified that motions to plea by mail will be granted in most cases due to pandemic. The court is adding information to its website for pro se defendants for email and phone communication. Prosecutors intend to be more aggressive in promoting case disposition and encouraging attorneys to respond to and act on written recommendations for case disposition by prosecutors.
Notification to litigants of Court protocols
The Court website will be updated with a separate page for court protocols. The continuity of operation plan will be included on this page along with links to other information. There will be prominent posting of signs setting out protocols. The media will be provided with court protocols