What Will the Courts Look Like As We Begin to Reopen?
St. Louis City and St. Louis County have both announced plans to ease restrictions on their stay at home order beginning on May 18. Some non-essential businesses will begin to reopen, while others are choosing to remain closed. But what about the courts?
What Has the Court Ordered?
On May 4, the Court ordered a new Operational Directive for “Easing Covid-19 Restrictions on In-Person Proceedings,” which supersedes their order from April 17. Currently, all courts will remain mostly closed to the public except for essential matters. However, on May 16, the Courts will begin opening in phases, beginning at Operating Phase Zero.
Phase Zero will look very similar to how the Courts have been operating since the end of March. All in-person court proceedings to remain suspended with some exceptions, including certain criminal proceedings, orders of protection, temporary restraining orders, and other time-sensitive matters. Where possible, judges and court staff are to continue to utilize all available technologies, including teleconferencing and video conferencing.
The Court has instituted “Gateway Criteria” by which a Circuit Court may move on to another phase. Most importantly, a Circuit must have no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the court facility within a 14-day period. There are several other criteria as well before a court can begin to change phases. A court can, upon its discretion, move back down a phase if necessary and appropriate.
What Does This Mean for My Case?
Even though things are beginning to reopen, the courts will not be back to normal right away and most cases are still in somewhat of a holding pattern. If you have a court date coming up, the best thing to do is to contact your attorney.
Bruntrager & Billings has been open as an essential business, working for their clients to move cases along as best they can within the court’s guidelines. We will continue working with our clients to achieve the best possible outcome while keeping everyone as safe as possible. We are still able to meet via video-conferencing where possible. If you have any further questions about your case specifically, you can reach us via our website or by calling us at 314-646-0066.