Courts reopen without jury trials

Presiding Judge Jason Lamb announced this week that courtrooms in the 12th Circuit, which includes Warren, Montgomery and Audrain counties, can resume some operations this week.

The reopening is based on criteria set by the Missouri Supreme Court, including 14 days of improving health conditions within the community.

“The other judges and I have been closely monitoring the number of active and recovered COVID cases throughout the circuit,” Judge Lamb said in a press release. “We also consult frequently with the local health officials in each county. The recovery trajectory is encouraging and an important factor in our analysis.”

In-person court appearances have been limited to emergency proceedings such as orders of protection and juvenile court as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges have been hearing other cases via video conference.

In the first phase of reopening, judges will be able to allow in-person proceedings, but are still encouraged to use video when possible.

Jury trials remain suspended until further notice. Lamb said the circuit is working to implement the Supreme Court’s COVID protocols for jury trials.

“When we resume jury trials, we will ensure that every reasonable safety measure is in place to protect the health of our jurors, staff and trial participants,” Lamb said.

Social distancing protocols and protective health measures are in place at each courthouse, including temperature screening upon entry and increased sanitation.

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