Taney County Court is reverting back to Phase Zero of the state’s operating directives after a court employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The court had been operating under Phase 3 for several weeks. The State Supreme Courts require circuit courts to revert back to Phase Zero or One in the event of a positive case. The result is that more cases will either be rescheduled or conducted by video, and security will screen visitors to the judicial center to see if they “have essential, emergency matters to attend to.”

According to a letter from Taney County Presiding Judge Jeff Merrell, the court “will continue operating in Phase Zero until a future Administrative order is entered.”

The letter said the Circuit Court will remain open, but it will be conducted differently in the following ways:

•First and foremost, the safety of our community and our employees here at the Taney County Judicial Center require limiting personal contact as much as possible while still processing the most-critical court business. Per the Administrative Order of the Court dated June 25, 2020, masks are still required for everyone wishing to enter the Taney County Judicial Center.

•We are taking every opportunity to advise and encourage the public to stay at home. We are re-setting non-emergency court matters to a later date. If you need information about re-scheduling your case or cases, please 1) contact your attorney, 2) file a motion for continuance, or 3) if unrepresented, call the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at 417-546-7230.

•Our judges are conducting criminal hearings with inmates from jail by video, while re-scheduling criminal hearings where the defendants are out of custody. Additionally, the sheriff is still working with the Prosecuting Attorney to carefully screen defendants being extradited to our local jail from outside the county, in order to best protect our citizens.

•Court security staff are screening people trying to enter the judicial center in an effort to determine whether those people have essential, emergency matters to attend to. In some cases, people can be told their respective case has been re-scheduled, and in others, a determination can be made whether or not the matter is actually an emergency. This helps to allow our courts to accommodate the processing of essential business while limiting potential dangers of exposure to numerous people.

•During the screening process Court security staff use a digital infrared body non-contact thermometer to test people attempting to enter the facility, as well as ask a short list of questions. People exhibiting a fever will not be permitted to enter the Judicial Center, and further instruction will be obtained from the Clerk’s Office regarding re-scheduling a court date, or how to appear for court remotely.

•We have quashed jury trials scheduled for the remainder of this month, in order to avoid unnecessary crowds.

•All non-emergency hearings in civil cases are being rescheduled.

•Many cases may still be handled by telephone, video, or other non-contact means.

•Court staff will be working on a rotation so that some employees are here in the office to conduct essential business, while others are staying at home. Earlier this spring, this helped our offices avoid having personal contact with groups of 5 or 10 or more.

•Municipal courts (Branson, Hollister, and Forsyth_ within the 46th Judicial Circuit – but outside the Judicial Center – may continue conducting court hearings, in observance of existing Operating Directives of the Missouri Supreme Court for Phase 3. Please contact those respective city offices with any questions about municipal court dates.

To find out about resetting a case, call the Taney County Circuit Court Clerk’s office at 417-546-7230.

 

The complete letter from Merrell:

While the courts within the 46th Judicial Circuit and the Taney County Judicial Center have been operating under Phase 3 – as defined by Missouri Supreme Court Operating Directives – for the past several weeks, a positive test for a staff person within our Judicial Center has necessitated that our Judicial Center be immediately scaled-back to Phase Zero. By Administrative Order of the Presiding Judge, the Taney County Judicial Center will continue operating in Phase Zero until a future Administrative order is entered.

Please note that the Circuit Court of Taney County is remaining open. However, court business will be conducted differently while we are operating in Phase Zero:

•First and foremost, the safety of our community and our employees here at the Taney County Judicial Center require limiting personal contact as much as possible while still processing the most-critical court business. Per the Administrative Order of the Court dated June 25, 2020, masks are still required for everyone wishing to enter the Taney County Judicial Center.

•We are taking every opportunity to advise and encourage the public to stay at home. We are re-setting non-emergency court matters to a later date. If you need information about re-scheduling your case or cases, please 1) contact your attorney, 2) file a motion for continuance, or 3) if unrepresented, call the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at 417-546-7230.

•Our judges are conducting criminal hearings with inmates from jail by video, while re-scheduling criminal hearings where the defendants are out of custody. Additionally, the sheriff is still working with the Prosecuting Attorney to carefully screen defendants being extradited to our local jail from outside the county, in order to best protect our citizens.

•Court security staff are screening people trying to enter the judicial center in an effort to determine whether those people have essential, emergency matters to attend to. In some cases, people can be told their respective case has been re-scheduled, and in others, a determination can be made whether or not the matter is actually an emergency. This helps to allow our courts to accommodate the processing of essential business while limiting potential dangers of exposure to numerous people.

•During the screening process Court security staff use a digital infrared body non-contact thermometer to test people attempting to enter the facility, as well as ask a short list of questions. People exhibiting a fever will not be permitted to enter the Judicial Center, and further instruction will be obtained from the Clerk’s Office regarding re-scheduling a court date, or how to appear for court remotely.

•We have quashed jury trials scheduled for the remainder of this month, in order to avoid unnecessary crowds.

•All non-emergency hearings in civil cases are being rescheduled.

•Many cases may still be handled by telephone, video, or other non-contact means.

•Court staff will be working on a rotation so that some employees are here in the office to conduct essential business, while others are staying at home. Earlier this spring, this helped our offices avoid having personal contact with groups of 5 or 10 or more.

•Municipal courts (Branson, Hollister, and Forsyth_ within the 46th Judicial Circuit – but outside the Judicial Center – may continue conducting court hearings, in observance of existing Operating Directives of the Missouri Supreme Court for Phase 3. Please contact those respective city offices with any questions about municipal court dates.

Please call the Taney County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office if you want to find out about re-setting your case, or check the status of your case on Missouri casenet.

Our team will continue to monitor this evolving situation and make changes as needed. Thank you for your cooperation in trying to keep our community and judicial staff safe.

(1) comment

Retired Cop

It's sad to see the county revert back to a Phase 0 or whatever because someone is determined to be positive for Covid-19. Positive based on a test that has been shown to be a scam or constantly misrepresenting true results. Did this test run 40-50 cycles until it finally showed a marker linked to covid-19? Is this a true positive or another false probable based on the number of cycles ran for the test/ There is no credibility for the test. With a 99.96% mortality rate, overreacting to this virus continues to harm people instead of protecting them. When are you going to wise up and say, "No more, this is a crock?" More people are dying from car accidents, suicides, and falling out of chairs that are dying from the real covid-19. In fact, a real death from covid-19 is extremely painful involving serious lung and breathing issues. Other diseases or injuries will kill you quicker than covid-19. A symptom similar to covid-19 is not a positive result for covid-19. Having a runny nose or fever while driving a car and then having a fatal car accident is not a death due to covid-19. Ask the coroner in Florida who had to change his ruling.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.