The US Justice system is protected against a lot of things, but it is not inoculated against the spread of viruses. As the number of people confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 rises, it is causing ripples throughout the US justice system. Many state and federal courts have closed, and trials and other legal proceedings are being rescheduled. Here is what you should know about the current status of legal proceedings in Arizona.
Current Status of Arizona Courts
In-person meetings in Maricopa County are being kept to an absolute minimum. This goes for all appellate and superior courts, as well as justice and municipal court business. While no courthouses are closed, they are requesting residents to do as much business online as possible.
Juries are not being empaneled right now. Jury selection has been halted until after April 17th. Similarly, the US District Court of Arizona has suspended all grand jury proceedings until then as well.
Currently, the presiding superior court judge within each county has the discretion to determine how to address courtroom proceedings. They may allow for extended options for filing, tele/video conferencing, email, and text messages to facilitate social distancing measures. Further, many are expected to limit the number of people allowed into the courtroom during proceedings.
Unfortunately, people are testing positive for COVID-19 in our community. These individuals should not attempt to present themselves for proceedings, whether it’s divorce mediation or a hearing. Individuals who have tested positive, have a confirmed exposure, or have confirmed symptoms will be granted continuances and special accommodations. These should be discussed with the individual’s legal counsel.
Additionally, many clerk’s offices are closed at present. These include the offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma. It is expected that more offices will close soon. These offices are closed only to in-person business. Thus, individuals are still able to make filings over the phone or via regular mail. These closures are scheduled to last until May 1st.
Currently, state courts in Arizona are not closed. However, all are limiting the number of people within the buildings and courtrooms. If you have scheduled proceedings, it is best for you to keep the number of people you bring with you to an absolute minimum; ideally, just yourself, your attorney, and any witnesses. If you have preexisting health conditions that elevate your risk for serious complications should you contract COVID-19, notify your attorney and they can contact the court to make alternative arrangements prior to your arrival at the courthouse.
Divorce Mediation Over the Phone
The risks of contracting COVID-19 are currently small. However, many people are understandably concerned about their health and the safety of their children and loved ones. Divorce mediation in Arizona can be conducted over the phone if both parties and the mediator agree to do so.
There are numerous teleconferencing options available that ensure a secure, private connection between the parties. The procedures are very similar to those of in-person meetings. During the mediation, your attorney will provide the same counsel and guidance over the phone that they would as if they were in the same room.
We invite you to contact Simon Law Group, PLLC at 480-745-2450 for more information about the current status of legal proceedings and divorce mediation procedures in Arizona. It’s our pleasure to answer your questions and give you the answers you need to move forward with your case.