Court postpones most trials, hearings; limits in-person services
(Klamath Falls, Ore.) Following orders issued by Oregon Chief Justice Martha L. Walters in response to the coronavirus, the Klamath County Circuit Court is making significant changes to court operations, effective Wednesday, March 18.
According to trial court administrator John Powell, the court is postponing most trials and hearings and limiting in-person services at the courthouse.
“The goal is to minimize public visits to the courthouse – to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus – while preserving rights and protecting the health and safety of everyone who works in or has business with the court,” he said. The restrictions will be in place until at least Friday, March 27. They may be extended or revised as circumstances warrant.
“The nature of this public health emergency has led me to order the postponement of most trials and court hearings,” said Chief Justice Walters. “The guidelines that were issued just last Friday no longer reflect the recommendations from the Centers on Disease Control and changing circumstances here in Oregon. We will do our best to provide people their day in court when we can safely do so, and we will pursue options for continuing our work without requiring in-person appearances, but, at the present time, limiting the number of people coming into our courtrooms and courthouses is paramount.”
Key points of Chief Justice Order (CJO) 20-006, issued Monday, March 16, 2020:
• Postpones, with limited exceptions, jury trials and other trials and hearings scheduled to start between Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 27. The limited exceptions include proceedings involving people in jail with a legal right to a speedy trial, civil commitment hearings, and certain protective order, family law, guardianship, and treatment court proceedings.
• Bans in-state and out-of-state work-related travel and bans internal meetings of five or more people. Larger meetings will be conducted remotely or re-scheduled.
• Directs presiding judges in each county to decide which judges and court staff need to work at the courthouse or remotely from home.
• Directs presiding judges in each county to work with the public safety community to ensure that they consider how best to address health issues of those who are incarcerated and how to keep jail populations at a minimum.
“The Klamath County Circuit Court will remain open only for legally required in-person services,” said Powell. “We are taking all necessary measures to maintain a safe and sanitary space for all employees and patrons.”
To protect the public and court staff, Powell asks people to use the online records and calendaring search tools available here: https://www.courts.oregon.gov/services/online/Pages/records-calendars.aspx to determine the status of their case or upcoming hearings.
He noted that the Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) also has a simple and secure way to pay online for many types of court cases and accounts. People can pay by credit or debit card and payments will be posted to their case within one business day. https://www.courts.oregon.gov/services/online/Pages/epay.aspx.
Powell said that, as circumstances surrounding this public emergency are changing rapidly, the court will continue to evaluate the situation and adjust as needed for the protection of the public and court staff.
Changes to operations and updated information will be posted on the Klamath County Circuit Court website: https://www.courts.oregon.gov/courts/klamath/.