Starting at 8 this morning, most courthouse and court facilities in Flagler, Volusia, St., Johns and Putnam counties reopened to the public, in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “Phase 2” reopening, but with several restrictions still in place, according to an order from Raul Zambrano, chief judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit.
Some in-person court proceedings will resume, but judges and their bailiffs, who usually maintain a strict decorum, will be responsible for ensuring that crowds are kept to a minimum, requiring staggered appearance times and asking people to wait outside of courtrooms at times.
Electronic hearings and other court proceedings will continue: “In accordance with previous directives,” Zambrano’s order states, “electronic means of communications is to be used to minimize face-to-face contact among judges, attorneys and litigants.”
The public will be required to wear masks within all court facilities and continue to adhere to social distancing requirements.
Those who work within the court facilities will be responsible for monitoring their own health. But for the public, a temperature check will be required upon entry. Those with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be denied entry. Members of the public will also be asked what’s now becoming routine questions about their health, and will be denied entry if they reveal having certain symptoms.
The same guidelines apply to other offices within the courthouse, such as those of the Clerk of Court. “With the opening, our office will operate according to the phase 2 guidelines recently established by Governor DeSantis,” Flagler County Clerk of Court Tom Bexley said in a release issued this morning. “The health and safety of our courthouse staff and the public continues to be our top priority. However, we must make sure that continued access to the judiciary and to the Clerk of Court & Comptroller’s services are maintained.”
The clerk is offering a series of remote, electronic services, including to pay traffic tickets, record mortgages, deeds, and other official records (that’s available online for repeat filers only, such as contractors, attorneys, title companies, closing agents and the like), file court documents electronically, pay child support and alimony, view records.
The facilities in the Seventh Judicial Circuit that remain under in Phase 1 restrictions include the Putnam County Courthouse, the Volusia County City Island Courthouse Annex, and the courtroom at the Volusia County Branch Jail.
All jury trials and most courthouse proceedings were suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus emergency.
Concerned Citizen says
So you are enforcing very imposing guidelines on the public but not your staff? OK then.
Why not mandate the same regulations for ALL who have access to county buildings. It makes no sense to have very restrictive policies on the public. But then turn around and say your staff ” are responsible for monitoring their own health”.
Do your staff not interact with the “public” when not working?