The courts are not closed, in spite of some rumors to that effect. However, some changes have been implemented as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Presiding Circuit Judge Megan Seay issued a press release on Tuesday, March 17 regarding court operations for the 42nd Judicial Circuit Court during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) State of Emergency.
Prior to the release, Crawford County Associate Court Judge Pat Horsefield was in attendance at the office holder meeting held with the Crawford County Commission on Tuesday. He reported there would be a suspension of in-person hearings except for select cases, noted that he had met with bailiffs earlier that morning to discuss procedures, and stated that he would be continuing (postponing) as many cases as possible for 60 days.
Required bond reviews that must take place within 48 hours will continue to be conducted by video as has been the practice for some time. Horsefield noted that keeps the jail from having to transport inmates over to the courtroom.
Horsefield also pointed out there was a difference between the courts remaining open and the courthouses remaining open, but noted that would be an issue to further discuss if there was a decision made to close the buildings that house the courts.
Judge Seay’s press release providing further guidance is as follows:
“In compliance with the Missouri Supreme Court’s Administrative Order 1791, dated March 22,, the Office of State Courts Administrator’s “Statement on The Courts and the Coronavirus” and Governor Mike Parson’s March 13, 2020 Executive Order 20-02 declaring a state of emergency in Missouri, the 42nd Judicial Circuit Court, including Dent County, Crawford County, Iron County, Reynolds County, Wayne County, and any municipality contained therein, is modifying court operations in the interest of public health.
“The plan outlined below will not impact any litigant’s liberty interests or due process rights. Simultaneously, it will eliminate the inevitable close social contact found in high-volume courts.
“In support of the world-wide effort to aggressively prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting social contact, the court is taking the following actions:
All cases considered to be non-essential in preserving a litigant’s liberty interests or due process rights starting March 17 through April 17 will be postponed to a later date. As the April 17 date approaches, the Court will evaluate whether the current policy should be continued.
The judge presiding over each case shall determine if your case is considered to be essential to preserving a litigant’s liberty interest or due process rights. If you have access to the internet, please go to www.courts.mo.gov and click on Case.net. With either the litigant’s name or a case number, you will be able to see if the judge presiding over the case has continued the matter. If you do not have access to the internet, please contact the appropriate Circuit Clerk listed below.
New court dates for continued cases will be mailed to litigants or emailed to their attorneys at the address on file. If unrepresented litigants have a pending case, those litigants must keep their addresses updated with the court. To update your address, please call your respective Circuit Clerk at the following numbers.
Crawford County Circuit Clerk: 573-775-2866 or 573-775-2149
Dent County Circuit Clerk: 573-729-3931 Iron County Circuit Clerk: 573-546-5700 Reynolds County Circuit Clerk: 573-648-2494
Wayne County Circuit Clerk: 573-224-5600
Victims and witnesses should contact the prosecutor’s office for information.
For more information, please contact the Presiding Circuit Judge’s Office at 573-729-6816.