LOGAN — As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic increases throughout the state, public offices are changing their procedures to help limit the potential for more exposures to occur. The latest as of Monday include restrictions on public use of a county court facility.
According to a press release from the Hocking County Municipal Court, the court on West Hunter Street in Logan has adopted policy and procedure changes, which became effective on Monday, Nov. 23, this week. The reason for the changes was the uptick in COVID-19 cases popping up inside Hocking County and across the state.
The court has announced that only litigants and attorneys who need to attend scheduled hearings will be allowed inside the building. Those walking into the courthouse will have to wear facial coverings over their nose and mouth.
For those who do not have a proper face mask, the court will provide one to them. Anyone entering the building will also have their temperature taken. Hocking County Sheriff’s Deputies will be on duty at the front door in order to maintain safety and health protocols.
The court will be conducting as many proceedings as possible by virtual means. Once in-person proceedings resume, pleas, evictions and small claims will be scheduled at specific times at least 30 minutes apart to ensure social distancing and sanitation of the facility.
The changes for the courthouse were signed by Judge Fred Moses and Magistrate Mary Ann Boone on Nov. 19, Thursday of last week.
Along with court procedures, the municipal court clerk’s office also provided details of how it will operate during this time:
• For criminal and traffic filings; all filings of court documents are mandated to be done via regular United States mail, email or facsimile only. Court-appointed counsel billing packets mist be mailed to the court as it is required to have the original document.
• For civil and small claims filings, all filings of court documents must be done via mail, email or facsimile. As is the standard practice in the civil division, any filing with associated fees due to the court will be accepted only with payment via regular United States mail.
• For payments; All payments on cases with pending balances or waivers of traffic citations should continue to be made by regular mail, online at hockingcountymunicipalcourt.com, or by phone by calling the payment processing center at 740-300-8250. There will be no in-person payments accepted unless the litigant has already been admitted into the building for a scheduled court hearing.
• If someone is filing a document via email, the file-stamped copy will be returned to them via email only at the address from which the file was received. All email filings should be sent to email@example.com.
• If someone is filing via facsimile, or by exact copy, individuals must provide an email address on their fax cover sheet or filing documents and their file-stamped copy will be provided to that same email address.
• For prosecutors, law directors and law enforcement agencies, any agency filing new charges or any filings for existing cases must file the documents electronically via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A note from the court added that documents filed electronically or by mail will be deemed filed on the date they are received in the clerk’s office.