The Missouri 12th Circuit Court, which includes Audrain, Montgomery and Warren counties, entered Phase 2 of reopening Monday.


This means no more than 25 people will be allowed in courtrooms and cases will be assigned specific start times to avoid large groups.


We have been preparing for an increase in the number of individuals entering the courthouses," Presiding Judge Jason Lamb said in a news release. "Our overriding goals are protecting the health and safety of everyone who enters these buildings while ensuring access to justice for all people."


Judges will resume in-person proceedings for more serious matters, such as criminal cases involving domestic assault, sexual assault, robbery, arson and DWI, divorce and child custody bench trials, landlord-tenant cases and treatment court.


Municipal court proceedings will resume. In-person hearing may be held for ordinance violation charges of assault, DWI and building or health code violations that could result irreparable harm, according to the release. Other circuit cases will continue by video.


"We are frequently consulting with local health officials and closely monitoring the number of new and recovered COVID cases throughout the circuit," Lamb said. "We will only advance or remain in a phase if the health conditions of the communities we serve continues to improve."


Jury trials remain suspended at this time. Information will be released in the coming weeks about jury service procedures. Potential jurors will receive a COVID-specific notice with instructions regarding safety protocols and deferral requests.


Social distancing and protective health procedures remain at each courthouse, including screening checkpoints upon entry, masks within public areas related to court functions and heightened sanitation procedures.