State courts are scheduled to reopen in Massachusetts with limited access and coronavirus screenings. Some matters will still be held virtually as a precautionary health and safety measure.
(TNS) — State courts in Massachusetts will reopen for some purposes next month, according to an updated order issued Wednesday by the Supreme Judicial Court, after months of holding matters virtually during the coronavirus pandemic.
The order, which goes into effect on July 1, allows for courthouses to reopen to the public for limited purposes, including some in-person proceedings, starting on July 13.
However, courts will continue to conduct most business virtually.
When courthouses reopen July 13, public entry will be limited to people attending in-person proceedings, conducting business with a clerk’s, register’s or recorder’s office, people meeting with probation, and those conducting business at other open offices in the courthouses.
There will be coronavirus screenings to enter the courthouse.
Cell phones will be allowed in courthouses, subject to compliance with certain rules set forth in a new Trial Court policy. The court’s policy on possession and use of cameras and personal electronic devices, which went into effect in 2015, is temporarily suspended effective July 13. Cell phones are allowed in court as long as they do not disrupt or disturb court business or proceedings. Phones must be turned off or set to silent mode and put away when entering a courtroom.
A second phase, slated to start Aug. 10, will further expand the number of in-person proceedings.
It will take longer for jury trials to resume. In both criminal and civil cases, jury trials have been postponed to no earlier than Sept. 8. When courts open July 13, judges may start to schedule civil and criminal bench trials.
No new grand jury can be empaneled before Sept. 8 unless there’s an order from the Supreme Judicial Court. Existing grand juries are extended until new empanelment or until the October 2020 empanelment in the relevant judicial district, whichever occurs first.
The court system is posting updates, orders and guidelines to a COVID-19 website.
©2020 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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