9th Judicial Circuit courts return to phase 1 of operations after COVID-19 cases spike

Courts return to phase 1 on Monday

FILE - This Jan. 14, 2013, file photo shows a gavel sits on a desk inside the Court of Appeals at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver. The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the U.S. legal system, creating constitutional dilemmas as the accused miss their days in court. Judges from California to Maine have postponed trials and nearly all in-person hearings to keep crowds from packing courthouses. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File) (Brennan Linsley, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Officials with the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida announced Thursday that the courts in Orange and Osceola County would be reverting to phase one of reopening operations after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the area.

“The Florida Supreme Court outlined a four-phased approach to court operations during this pandemic that requires very specific criteria to be met at each phase. With the changing landscape in our community’s health conditions – in both Orange and Osceola counties – the Ninth Judicial Circuit no longer meets the Supreme Court’s criteria for Phase 2 operations (see AOSC20-23). Consequently, and with the input of County and State medical experts and the consensus of the Workgroup on Restoration of Access to the Courthouses, the Ninth Judicial Circuit will be transitioning back into Phase 1 operations beginning on Monday, June 29, 2020,” Circut officials said in a news release.

Under phase one operations, the courts will remain open for essential hearings, with remote proceedings when in-person hearings are not practical. Officials said nonessential hearings will be conducted remotely, and in some instances rescheduled.

“As the health and safety of our community is of primary importance, all persons entering our courthouses will still be required to submit to a health screening and temperature check, and must wear a mask at all times,” a news release read.

The courts will remain under phase one operations until criteria for both phase one and two are met.

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Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.