Supreme Court of Missouri enacts further precautionary measures to combat COVID-19 pandemic
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Supreme Court of Missouri this week extended through April 17 its statewide suspension of most in-person proceedings, subject to certain listed exceptions for urgent matters required under the constitution or state law or otherwise necessary to protect health or safety.
Despite the restrictions, the state’s courts remain open to conduct necessary business, though access to court buildings – including the Supreme Court Building – has been limited to help prevent the spread of the disease. The Court’s order does not affect a court’s ability to consider or rule on matters and does not affect required deadlines through the state’s electronic filing system.
The Court’s order authorizes local courts to determine how best to conduct the excepted proceedings and other necessary court business. The Missouri Courts COVID-19 alert page – https://www.courts.mo.gov/pandemic/, launched March 13 – links to the various orders and notices issued by the Court, the three districts of the Missouri Court of Appeals, each of the state’s 115 circuit courts and a growing number of the state’s stand-alone municipal divisions. This web page is updated throughout each day as new information become available. Individuals with questions about the status of particular cases should check Case.net, sign up for alerts through Case.net’s Track This Case tool, ask their attorney or contact the local clerk’s office.
Today the Court enacted emergency procedures for administering oaths or affirmations during the pandemic. By suspending any state or local court rule that could be read to the contrary, the Court’s action permits oaths or affirmations to be administered using videoconferencing, teleconferencing or other available technologies. Please read today’s order.
In prior actions, the Court canceled its own in-person oral arguments scheduled in April; canceled tours; canceled or postponed meetings and other nonessential business; and canceled its spring attorney enrollment ceremony, which had been scheduled for April 24. The Court also expanded the time in which the state’s more than 30,000 licensed attorneys must obtain required continuing legal education credits and has extended their deadline for reporting credits.
As information about and best practices for dealing with the COVID-19 from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services continue to evolve, the Court will continue to discuss how best to balance the health and safety of the public, judges and court staff statewide with the judicial branch’s responsibility to uphold the constitutional rights of litigants seeking redress and other core constitutional functions.