Missouri and Kansas have now both lifted their stay-at-home restrictions, while encouraging individuals at high-risk for contracting the virus to continue staying at home if possible. However, the Johnson County Courthouse has announced that it will remain closed for the time being.
When Will it Open?
The Johnson County Courthouse has announced that it will remain closed until it is safe to re-open. While it has not specified an exact re-opening date, it has published a detailed plan outlining four phases that must each be satisfied before courthouse operations are entirely resumed on an in-person (as opposed to remote) basis. At this point, the earliest that courthouse operations can be resumed is June 15, 2020. However, they said they are actively receiving input and guidance from several state and federal agencies and organizations.
Why Remain Closed?
In its official statement, the Court emphasized that the courthouse pulls together over 400,000 people annually from a relatively wide geographic area, implying that this can have potentially dangerous consequences during a pandemic. It is also generally a crime for people to miss court dates, meaning that if the court was to open, individuals who do not feel well would still be required to come to court and risk contaminating everyone else in their presence. Additionally, it is important to think about the health and safety of jurors, lawyers, police officers, employees, and everyone else who would be required to facilitate an open courthouse, and whether opening at this point would expose them to unnecessary risk.
Under the proposed plan, once the courthouse re-opens, a number of precautions will be implemented to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure as much as possible. For instance, the guidelines require judges to conduct their proceedings in a way that complies with social distancing guidelines, with no one person closer than six feet to another. Additionally, any individual exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or who is known to have been exposed to the coronavirus, is barred from entering the courthouse, and individuals inside the courthouse will be required to wear masks in all public and shared spaces.
It is also important to note that the plan requires Kansas City to have first met the 14-day downward trajectory of no new COVID-19 cases and for federal restrictions on in-person gatherings to have been relaxed before moving on to in-person phases.
What to Do
Although things seem uncertain at the moment it is still important that you talk to a Kansas City lawyer as soon as possible if you have a legal issue. A Kansas City lawyer will be able to assess your unique circumstances and help you determine how best to get justice and financial retribution for you.