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Jackson County Circuit Court adapts to COVID-19 restrictions

The Jackson County Circuit Court has made several changes to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.

Posted: Oct 16, 2020 5:32 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2020 5:09 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Jackson County Circuit Court has made several changes to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions.

Two courtrooms are used for trials to maintain social distancing. Courtrooms can normally hold up to 60 people, but now they're limited to 25.

The rooms are also cleaned between sessions.

Elevators in the building are limited to two people at a time. They also contain hand sanitizer for people to use.

Signage is posted throughout the building reminding people to social distance.

Judge Tim Gerking tells NewsWatch 12 that some of these changes can be challenging since managing multiple parties, lawyers and staff in a courtroom isn't feasible during a pandemic.

"We have been scratching our heads trying to figure out what to do, and we have decided that we need to go offsite to try those cases," Gerking said.

He says they'll be using the old Central High School building to handle large lawsuits.

"This pandemic has really created problems for us, but we have found ways to overcome those obstacles so that access to justice is provided for the citizens of this county," Gerking said.

"People have a right to trial in their criminal matters and they have a number of constitutional rights that would allow them to meet meaningfully with their defense attorney, so whether that can be done by phone or in person is something they work out," said Judge Laura Cromwell.

Cromwell says anyone that comes to court needs to wear a mask. People should also be prepared for longer wait times throughout the docket.

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