Taney County Court scales back to Phase 1 due to positive COVID case

READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERENEW UPDATE:Taney County Court will revert back to Phase 1 of its operations due to a positive COVID-19 case in the court.According to an Administrative Order from Taney County Presiding Judge Jeff Merrell, the county had been operating under Phase 3 since earlier this month, but now a positive test from a staff person at the Taney County Judicial Center has made it necessary to scale back to Phase 1. According to Merrell, this order will continue until a further administrative order is issued.The state supreme court gives the presiding judge the discretion to revert to Phase 1 or Phase 0 in the event of a positive test. In this case, according to the release, Merrell chose to only go back to Phase 1 “because the employee who tested positive has not been present in the Taney County Judicial Center since Monday, November 16, 2020.”

Merrell continued.“I believe this still allows us to take necessary efforts to protect our employees, staff and the community, while still acknowledging the fact that some risk has been limited because the employee has not had contact with the Judicial Center or other people within the Judicial Center for several days.”Taney County Circuit Court remains open, but business will be conducted differently in Phase 1.From the Administrative Order:–First and foremost, the safety of our community and our employees here at the Taney County Judicial Center require limiting personal contact as much as possible, while still processing the most critical court business. Per the Administrative Order of this Court dated June 25, 2020, masks are still required for everyone wishing to enter the Taney County Judicial Center.–We are taking every opportunity to advise and encourage the public to stay at home. We are re-setting non-emergency court matters to a later date. If you need information about re-scheduling, call the circuit court clerk’s office at 417-546-7230.

–Our judges are conducting criminal hearings with inmates from jail by video, while re-scheduling criminal hearings where the defendants are out of custody. Additionally, the sheriff is still working with the prosecuting attorney to carefully screen defendants being extradited to our local jail from outside the county, in order to best protect our citizens.–Court security staff are screening people trying to enter the judicial center in an effort to determine whether those people have essential, emergency matters to attend to. In some cases, people can be told their respective case has been re-scheduled, and in others, a determination can be made whether or not the matter is actually an emergency. This helps to allow our courts to accommodate the processing of essential business while limiting potential dangers of exposure to numerous people.–During the screening process, court security staff use a digital infrared body non-contact thermometer to test people attempting to enter the Judicial Center, and further instruction will be obtained from the clerk’s office regarding re-scheduling a court date, or how to appear for court remotely.–We have no jury trials scheduled for the next couple of weeks, and further decisions are being made now about the status of December jury trials, in an effort to avoid unnecessary crowds.–Most non-emergency hearings in civil cases are being re-scheduled.–Many cases may still be handled by telephone, video, or other non-contact means.–Municipal courts (Branson, Hollister, and Forsyth) within the 46th Judicial Circuit (Taney County) but outside the Judicial Center – may continue conducting court hearings, in observance of existing Operating Directives of the Missouri Supreme Court for Phase 3. Please contact this respective city offices with any questions about municipal court dates.To find out about re-setting your case, call the Taney County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at 417-546-7230.



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