Court hearings go back online after Camden County Courthouse employee tests positive for COVID-19

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 5:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2020 at 6:45 PM CDT
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CAMDENTON, Mo. (KY3) - Court has been, different, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

”It’s interesting,” said Camden County Prosecuting Attorney, Heather Miller. “In a lot of ways it’s business as usual, right? Because we still have a constant inflow of cases that are coming on.”

In-person hearings were shut down for several months. Lawyers and judges were still busy.

”We work with a great bar here in town, meaning a bar of defense attorneys, that have been really creative in getting their cases move,” Miller said. “So, if their case is ready to be plead out, or ready to have a hearing that doesn’t necessarily need to have a bunch of witnesses, we’re still doing those.”

The state Supreme Court started to allow in-person hearings again about six weeks ago. Camden County hired a COVID-19 Nurse to help with sanitizing the court and conference rooms, and helped maintain social distancing during hearings to keep people safe.

Every other pew in the courtrooms have been taped off. Temperatures are checked at the door. Hand sanitizer is readily available.

”We’ve been taking those precautions,” Miller said.

Even with those precautions, an employee in the courthouse tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, In-person hearings have stopped, and moved back to online only.

”If a person is not physically in the custody of the sheriff’s department or some other correctional facility then, we’re not doing contested hearings, we’re not bringing witnesses in,” Miller said.

Miller said that is to “reset,” and hopefully be cleared to return to in-person hearings.

Miller hopes that day comes soon, because jury trials are backing up.

”We’re preparing so when we’re finally able to have a jury trial, we can push through and we’re not letting these months go by wasted,” Miller said.

The courthouse is still open, but the public is advised to call ahead before visiting the offices inside. It could be up to four weeks until in-person hearings return, as long as no other employees test positive.

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