COVID-19 Court Changes

13th Circuit Court Changes Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 16, 2020, Presiding Judge Kevin Crane issued an order continuing all hearings in the 13th Judicial Circuit other than certain criminal, juvenile, family law, and probate hearings. Later that day, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued a similar order with state-wide effect.

On March 19, 2020, Mary Epping, Court Administrator of the 13th Judicial Circuit, updated the Court’s docket schedule and provided information on the system being developed for confidential communications through video-conferencing with in-custody defendants at the Boone County Jail.

On March 20, 2020, the Columbia Municipal Court provided an update on its plans to continue video arraignments for in-custody defendants, process payments and written guilty pleas, and recall warrants as appropriate. Additionally, the Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney announced plans for scheduled, in-person client conferences with defendants housed at the Callaway County Jail.

On March 23, 2020, the Presiding Judge Kevin Crane issued an order, inter alia, suspending service of process, extraditions, writs of restitution, attachment, execution, replevin, and evictions.

On March 24, 2020, both the City of Columbia and Boone County issued Stay-at-Home orders for areas both within and outside the city limits of the City of Columbia. The Supreme Court of Missouri issued an order extending the CLE period. And Judge Crane issued a supplemental administrative order impacting court operations through April 24.

On March 25, 2020, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued a statewide order on the administration of oaths. This order confirms that oaths may be administered remotely by videoconferencing or teleconferencing. The order also reminds us that notarization is governed by Missouri statute.

On March 26, 2020, Mary Epping provided updates on the Boone County Courthouse’s system for attorney appearances in matters involving in-custody defendants and on how the Associate Circuit Judges were planning to carry out their duties.

On April 2, 2020, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued a supplemental order regarding the judiciary’s state-wide response to COVID-19. Chief Justice George Draper’s order reminds us that, “The courts of the State of Missouri shall remain open.” However, with limited exceptions, all in-person proceedings shall be suspended through May 1, 2020.

On April 3, 2020, Mary Epping provided updated information on the use of Zoom video-conferencing with the Boone and Callaway County jails for appearances and attorney-conferences.

On April 6, 2020, Governor Parson issued an executive order authorizing notarial acts to be performed remotely.

On April 13, 2020, Mary Epping provided an updated order regarding Court procedural changes in response to COVID-19 consolidating and extending the Court’s prior orders.

On April 17, 2020, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued another supplemental order extending the suspension of most in-person proceedings until May 15, 2020.

On April 23, 2020, Stephanie Browning, Director of Public Health and Human Services for the City of Columbia issued revised orders affecting all areas of Boone County. These orders extend the Stay-at-Home period through May 3, 2020 but lessen the restrictions on retail nonessential businesses. The orders impacted areas within the City of Columbia as well as areas outside the city. The orders are not exactly the same, though, they are similar in substantive content. Also included was an FAQ document explaining the orders and their differences from the state-wide order that had been extended through May 3.

On May 4, 2020, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued Operational Directives for Easing COVID-19 Restrictions on In-Person Proceedings. This order becomes effective on May 16, 2020 and provides general guidelines for Circuit and Appellate Courts working through their own reopening processes.

On May 29, 2020, Presiding Judge Kevin Crane issued an Administrative Order advancing the 13th Judicial Circuit to Phase 2 of the Supreme Court’s operational directives.

On June 19, 2020, Presiding Judge Kevin Crane issued an Administrative Order advancing the 13th Judicial Circuit to Phase 3 of the Supreme Court’s operational directives.

On July 24, 2020, the Boone County Circuit Court reverted to Phase 1 of the Supreme Court’s operational directives in response to a a courthouse employee testing positive for COVID-19, pursuant to an Administrative Order issued by Presiding Judge Kevin Crane.

Obviously, this is a situation that continues to evolve. Near-contemporaneous email updates will continue to be delivered as the BCBA becomes aware of new information impacting the practice of law in Boone County.