County courts respond to COVID-19

MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Courts have addressed how it will continue to remain open to conduct judicial business throughout the state’s mandated closures due to the public health emergency due to the COVID-19 virus.

In a statement signed by Municipal Court Judges Gary Nasal and Sam Huffman and Common Pleas Court Judges Jeannine Pratt and Stacy Wall, they outlined how the courts are monitoring the COVID-19 virus and its impact on the community.

“We are monitoring the coronavirus very closely and in view of the public discussion and administrative orders concerning reduced social contact in society, we wish to assure you that the courts will continue to remain open to address the public’s needs.

At this time, there is no way to precisely know what steps will be necessary in the future to maintain legal services within any administrative constraints that may be imposed by federal and state authorities. We are consulting with the Supreme Court and other regional courts on potential options for protocol.

At this time, essential hearings and appearances will go on as scheduled. Judges and magistrates will be available 24/7 as is currently the practice.

No definite changes are being implemented at this time. However, you should expect that operations will change with the circumstances.

For example, it is reasonable to expect that continuances will occur on non-essential proceedings. For necessary hearings, appearances by audio and video methods will likely be expected. Filing of pleadings by fax are strongly encouraged and the court may eventually approve filings by email on a temporary basis. If changes become necessary, we will provide you with details on how to implement them.”

Miami County Common Pleas Court’s Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Scott Altenburger provided a court order that stated the court will continue to remain open and maintain essential court operations and functions, but may temporarily adapt to allow flexibility within Constitutional limits due to the public health emergency.

The court also stated the public health emergency may be considered as a good cause for continuances on a case-by-case basis.

By Melanie Yingst

myingst@aimmediamidwest.com