09:59 AM

Supreme Court of Missouri modifies operational directives governing local courts in resuming proceedings during COVID-19 pandemic

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Supreme Court of Missouri today issued an order modifying its operational directives to further guide courts statewide in establishing local precautionary measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring they remain open to conduct business as necessary to carry out their core, constitutional functions. Today’s order, effective August 1, adds to the operational directives originally issued in May.

Under the modified operational directives

* An operating phase shall apply uniformly to each local court facility in which judicial functions are performed.

* The terms and conditions of a local court’s operating phase may be made more stringent, but not less stringent, than provided in the statewide operating directives.

* If any court employee, bailiff or other court personnel working in a court facility tests positive for COVID-19, the local court must move that facility back to Operating Phase Zero or One.

* As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, face masks or coverings shall be required:

* In all public court areas and during all court proceedings unless good cause is shown to limit the requirement in a particular proceeding, such as for a witness who is testifying; and

* Except when an individual is alone in a private office.

Additionally, today’s modified operational directives require local courts to make efforts to communicate precautions being taken and other COVID-19-related developments to attorneys through The Missouri Bar.

As has been the case since May, under the modified operational directives, activities in all appellate and circuit courts – including all associate, family, juvenile, municipal and probate divisions – will continue to be restricted in some respect, and courts are encouraged to use all available technologies to conduct activities remotely to limit the number of in-person proceedings conducted in courthouses. The operational directives provide uniform “gateway criteria” for Missouri courts to begin resuming court activities gradually – as local conditions permit – making paramount the health and welfare of litigants, witnesses, victims, jurors, attorneys, judicial employees and other individuals involved in judicial proceedings in determining whether a courthouse is ready to progress through four defined operating phases.