Genesee circuit court demands face coverings to enter courthouse amid growing spread of COVID-19

GENESEE COUNTY, MI – Genesee County Circuit and Estate Courts have passed new restrictions as the county reports its highest number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Courts announced the new protocols on Monday, January 10, four days after the county set a new single-day coronavirus case record with 928 reported on Thursday, January 6 and after four days in which more than 700 new infections were reported in just nine days.

The court’s announcement, which comes a day after the announcement of new restrictions for the Genesee District Court, indicates that the following restrictions and changes are in effect immediately based on current COVID-19 trends and recent guidelines from the county health department:

  • Face coverings will be required to enter the courthouse, regardless of immunization status, and should be worn in all courtrooms, public offices and other spaces. Masks will be available for a limited time, as needed.
  • Employees will be required to wear a face mask unless they are in a private office. A KN95 mask is strongly recommended.
  • The court has relocated 50 percent of the staff in charge of juvenile cases and 50 percent of the staff of the probate court registry to temporary jobs, reducing the density of employees in these areas.
  • Judges will work with their offices to develop a plan emphasizing the ability to continue judicial and judicial work in a manner consistent with the health and well-being of judicial staff and the public. Courtroom operations will continue to maximize remote participation.

Genesee circuit and estate courts have been forced to change protocols throughout the pandemic.

Circuit court administrator Barbara Menear said in an email to MLive-The Flint Journal on Monday that civil trials continue in person, unless the parties agree or a judge decides that witnesses individuals must appear via Zoom.

Final civil settlement conferences continue in person, and other motions and civil hearings can take place in person or remotely depending on the preference of lawyers and the decision of a judge.

Civil jury trials, which are on hiatus, are to be held in person, Menear said.

In criminal cases, defendants have the right to attend certain court appearances unless they waive that right. Zoom is used where possible, the email from Menear reads, and court or jury trials must be held in person.

In the Family Division, domestic trials, delinquency trials, abuse and neglect trials, and other court proceedings related to domestic and delinquency cases are conducted in person. Other cases can also be in person at the discretion of the judge.

According to Menear, the Friend of the Court and Family Division arbitrators still conduct the in-person evidence hearings.

Read more:

928 COVID-19 cases in one day shatter Genesee County record

Flint schools extend virtual learning by an additional week

Genesee District Court locations take extra precautions due to COVID-19

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