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Jury trials temporarily suspended in Butte County

Current circumstances in the Butte County legal system are changing due to coronavirus concerns.

Posted: Mar 18, 2020 6:04 PM
Updated: Mar 19, 2020 11:25 AM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - All criminal jury trials scheduled between March 23, 2020, and April 22, 2020, will be postponed.

Butte County court officials requested the temporary suspension of jury trials and Wednesday received approval through an Emergency Order of the Chief Justice.

All locations of the Butte County Superior Court will remain open at this time because the Court provides "essential public functions," but in-person access to courthouses will be limited.

Access to the courthouse is limited to only those individuals who have business with the court.

If you need to file documents with the clerk's office you need to use the dropbox. Filing remains available through electronic (e-filing) or in the mail. In-person self-help services are limited to retraining order or other emergency orders. All other self-help services are available online or via telephone.

Access to attend a courtroom is limited to actual parties to a matter or individuals with a duty toward a matter on the calendar that day. Such individuals include the prosecutor, plaintiff attorney, defense counsel, defendants, victims or a member of the victims family or a victim advocate, investigator, law enforcement, a county or state employee, a member of a Native  American tribe in a dependency or a guardianship proceeding, or other people who have a legal obligation toward the proceeding, including media.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office is enforcing this order to ensure a safe facility for the protection of the public and court employees. The Sheriff may allow others into the courthouse or courtroom if the situation warrants.

Those people seated inside a courtroom will be required to sit at least one seat apart from anyone else.

Anyone demonstrating obvious signs of illness will be required to leave the courthouse.

To find out more you can CLICK HERE for messages from courthouse staff.

Court Executive Officer Kimberly Flener told Action News Now that the request to the Chief Justice was for jury trial temporary suspension until May 15, but the order was only granted through Apr. 22, 2020.

Flener said many of the court's services are online, like payments of fines, fees, and citations. She said there are also a lot of self-help services available online at their website.

Hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the courthouses. Parties are being rescheduled if illness is an issue. Appearance in court by phone is sometimes being allowed at this time, said Flener.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said their office doors remain open at this time.

When asked how the trial continuances will impact his department he said, "This summer will be madness. Continuances are the bane of our existence."

Ramsey said the District Attorney's Office is understaffed. There are normally 30 attorneys. Right now, he said, there are 24.

One new Deputy D.A. was just hired, but recruitment has been difficult since the Camp Fire, said Ramsey. He said the difficulty in finding housing in the area is hampering his ability to fill positions.

For continuing coverage on coronavirus, CLICK HERE

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