Arizona Chief Justice Robert Brutinel recently issued Administrative Order 2020-75. This order explains the Arizona courts reopening processes and guidelines that will gradually begin on June 1, 2020.
Chief Justice Brutinel released the following statement about the new order regarding the reopening of Arizona courts,
“Arizona’s courts are beginning the process of returning to normal operations, consistent with protecting the health and safety of the public and of court employees. This process will happen gradually and courts across the State of Arizona will take all necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that our facilities are clean and safe and that appropriate distancing is observed.”
The new order replaced the April 2020 issued Administrative Order 2020-70, which limited in-court functions and mandated courts follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations regarding social distancing.
Here’s what you need to know and what to expect:
- In-person proceedings. The implementation of alternative staffing schedules and screening for illnesses are required as courts resume as in-person proceedings. Anybody entering Arizona’s court buildings will also be required to wear a protective face covering.
- Empaneling juries. Initially, only necessary parties and jurors will attend hearings in person. In an effort to alleviate trial backlogs, courts are permitted to call fewer jurors and reduce the reassignment of judges to hear trials (both measures will expire on December 31, 2020).
- Limiting access to courthouses and courtrooms. Courts are permitted to deny entry to individuals who fail health screening tests and must continue enforcing social distancing practices mandated in a prior order.
- Using technology as necessary to continue court functions. In-person proceedings will initially only occur when deemed necessary; court operations will otherwise function in a remote capacity. When the public is not permitted to physically attend a court proceeding, the court has been directed to provide video or audio access.
Pandemic’s Impact on State Courts and Criminal Justice System
Even with the gradual reopening of Arizona courts, judicial leaders are telling lawmakers to expect delays in state courts and within the criminal justice system. For instance, Jury trials will be delayed until June 15, 2020.
Further, constitutional and statutory preferences and priorities for cases will continue to apply unless otherwise waived.
For cases where the right to a jury has not been waived, scheduling will follow this order of priority:
(a) Criminal felony and misdemeanor cases (where the defendant is in custody)
(b) Sexually violent person trials
(c) Criminal felony cases (where the defendant is not in custody)
(d) Criminal misdemeanor cases (where the defendant is not in custody)
(e) Civil and any other jury trial cases (includes personal injury claims)
For other cases with fixed limits and constitutional and statutory preferences regarding specific case issues, they shall be scheduled in the following order of priority:
(c) Mental Health
(d) Family (involving minor children)
(e) Family (not involving minor children)
(f) Probate (involving protected persons)
(g) Civil (including personal injury court cases)
(h) General probate
(i) Tax and administrative cases
Key Takeaways Regarding Arizona Courts Reopening
Basically, the key takeaways regarding Arizona courts reopening are that in spite of these delays, our legal teams are dedicated to keeping your case or claim moving forward. We are here for you 24/7 and are experienced at getting the best possible results to meet our client’s individual needs.
If you still have questions regarding the reopening of Arizona courts and how it may affect you, please contact our team to get help finding answers. We know that the legal process can be confusing to navigate on your own and are here to help.