COURT ORDERS ISSUED
Face coverings will become commonplace in area court facilities going forward indefinitely to prevent spread of COVID-19. That’s one of many provisions being implemented under a new Administrative Order (AO) issued by Presiding Mohave County Superior Court Judge Charles Gurtler that takes effect on June 1.
``This Administrative Order provides additional specifics with respect to the transition to resumption of various court operations in such a manner that further prioritizes the safety of the public, judge and employees of the judiciary,” Gurtler’s order said. It’s first provision is that attorneys, witnesses and others continue to use video or teleconference systems to monitor or participate in hearings whenever possible.
Those working or visiting Superior, Justice and Municipal Courts will for the most part be required to keep groups to ten or less people while maintaining the recommended six feet of social distance. Judges have some discretion to allow exceptions within their domain when necessary.
Security personnel will screen those who appear at the point of entry. They’ll be asked questions about their general health and if they are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms.
Face coverings are required for most anyone visiting a court building or probation office.
``The general public shall continue to maintain wearing the mask, face covering or a face shield,” the AO said. ``A person refusing to wear a face mask, face covering or face shield shall not be permitted to enter the facility.”
Exceptions include court staff members who have work environments that provide proper social distance and for Judges who almost always enjoy proper distance from their place on the bench. Attorneys, witnesses and others who must address the Court can temporarily lower their masks when doing so.
While exceptions are allowed for them in certain environments, judges and court staff must wear face coverings when in court facility space where proper social distancing is not possible.
Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen is being assigned criminal cases because the three other criminal divisions are overwhelmed with backlogs that have developed during restricted court operations for more than two months. Some of Jantzen’s civil cases will be redistributed to other civil division judges.
Grand jury proceedings are being conducted by ZOOM and court officials will use a mix of in-person and electronic means of communication to select members for grand jury and trial jury duty.