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Iowa Judicial Branch sets rules for coronavirus response

By: - March 12, 2020 3:18 pm
nterior of an empty courtroom with gavel and sounding block on the desk.

A Des Moines man has been sentenced to life in prison on charges on charges of sex trafficking. (Photo by Getty Images)

Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen has issued an order governing how the courts will operate amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus that’s currently spreading in the United States and in many countries around the world.

“Preparation is key to minimizing coronavirus/COVID-19 impact on the services the judicial branch provides Iowans,” Christensen wrote. She emphasized that all efforts must be consistent with keeping the courts open “to the fullest extent possible while protecting public safety by mitigating the impact” of the virus.

Among the procedures included in the order:

  • Any attorney or party to a court case must “promptly notify opposing counsel and the respective Clerk of Court’s office if they reasonably suspect that a participant in any scheduled court hearing, trial, conference, deposition or other proceeding may have an elevated risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
  • To the extent possible, counsel must ask their clients and witnesses rather they have an elevated risk.
  • No one who has an elevated risk of transmitting the virus will be allowed to attend any court proceeding with prior authorization from the court.
  • Potential jurors must notify the jury manager if they have an elevated risk of transmitting the virus and the jury manager must reschedule potential jurors with an elevated risk to a new term of service.
  • The court may conduct conferences and hearings using video or phone conferencing.

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