MARYVILLE, Mo. — Roger Prokes, presiding judge of the 4th Circuit Court, has released information regarding the court reopening process.
On Monday, May 18, the Nodaway County Courthouse reopened and began operating under Phase One of the reopening plan approved by the Missouri Supreme Court.
During this phase, in-person court proceedings and large venues over which the court has control, are limited to a total occupancy of 10 or fewer whenever possible, according to an operating plan provided by Judge Prokes.
Last week, he along with Circuit Clerk Elaine Wilson met with the Nodaway County Commissioners by phone to discuss the need for special cleaning at the courthouse now that it’s reopened to the public.
“What we’re going to do, and the commission has been very cooperative in this, is to after every hearing we have is to come in and sanitize the courtroom,” Prokes told The Forum by phone Tuesday. “If we have a bulk docket where we have a lot of people come in we would do that after noon and at the end of the day to try to keep the courtroom as clean as we could.”
From banisters and hallways, to tables and doorknobs, he said they hope to keep the courthouse as clean as they can and “keep so when people touch it hopefully we’re keeping them from picking up something they don’t want to have.”
According to the plan, during the first phase, inside courtrooms, all present are required to wear a face mask. Only judicial employees will be provided a face mask. Social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained. Among numerous other requirements. The full text of the brief is available online at maryvilleforum.com.
Should no increase be seen in potential COVID-19 activity, Phase Two is set to begin on Monday June 1. Under it, in-person court proceedings may be increased, including the most extraordinary, pressing and urgent, grand and petite, jury proceedings. Gatherings of up to 25 persons are allowed.
Phase Three is scheduled to begin Monday, June 15, should no increase be seen in potential COVID-19 activity. During this phase in-person court proceedings may resume including grand and petite jury, in keeping with local social distancing requirements. Large venue areas can operate, subject only to local social distancing requirements. Screening procedures can be terminated and normal staffing schedules resumed.
While hearings and trials are pushed even into 2021, Prokes said, overall the court is not that behind.
“We had a pretty good size criminal law day on Monday morning,” he said. “There weren’t that many new cases that got filed while we were shut down on it. I appreciate people being well-behaved.”
He explained that for two months worth of court waiting, he believed they’d have most of the bulk dockets caught up by the end of June.
“Now as far as hearings and trials, they’re even pushed down the road,” Prokes said. “Because of bringing juries in and lawyers’ comfort, the lawyers not being able to do their discovery we’ve kind of pushed that stuff down the road.”