The Missouri 12th Circuit Court comprised of Audrain, Montgomery and Warren Counties entered Phase 1 of COVID-19 reopening procedures Monday.

The operating phases were set by the Supreme Court of Missouri and look at criteria compliance and improving community health conditions over a two week period.

“The other judges and I have been closely monitoring the number of active and recovered COVID cases through the circuit,” Presiding Judge Jason Lamb said in a news release. “We also consult frequently with the local health officials in each county. The recovery trajectory is encouraging and an important factor in our analysis to move to the next phase.”

The pandemic had limited in-person court appearances to emergency proceedings, such as protection orders or juvenile court matters. Other cases were heard by video, such as bond hearings, guilty pleas and other civil matters.

Phase 1 allows for more in-person proceedings for other critical matters, such as preliminary and probation violation hearings for detained defendants and motions for temporary child custody. Video appearances still will be used when possible.

Jury trials remain suspended, but the circuit is working to implement the new Supreme Court protocols for jury trials.

“When we resume jury trials, we will ensure that every reasonable safety measure is in place to protect the health of our jurors, staff and trial participants,” Lamb said.

Social distance protocols and protective health measures are in place at each courthouse, including screening checkpoints, masks within public areas related to court functions and heightened sanitation procedures.

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