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Court via Zoom starts May 19

The curtailment of civil and criminal court proceedings which began mid-March has created quite a caseload backlog and court officers will attempt to begin clearing it next week using videoconferencing technology. Court is a different animal in that people are not voluntarily entering a business like a barber shop or restaurant, they are being compelled to appear or face consequences. So, vast safeguards have been put into place, according to clerk of court Caleb Tyson who has summoned 53 defendants to appear May 19. Of those, 27 must appear at 9 a.m. with 26 more to appear at 1 p.m. Only 10 will be allowed into the courtroom at a time. Defendants must wear a face mask and temperatures will be scanned at the courthouse security station. ’A Zoom station will be set up at one of the attorney tables in the courtroom for the defendant. The judge and court reporter will be in place on and beside the bench. Zoom stations will be set up in the district attorney’s office and the public defender’s office for the hearing. We will sanitize the defendant’s Zoom station after each appearance,’ Tyson explained. On May 20, the set-up moves to the Lamar County jail for inmate hearings beginning at 9 a.m. A Zoom station will be set up in the magistrate court for inmates. All others will participate remotely. ’We tried a few of these last week as an experiment. They went pretty well,’ Tyson reported. Friday afternoon, the focus shifts to civil court proceedings. Plaintiffs and defendants will participate remotely from homes, offices or attorneys’ offices. ’This situation is in flux. Things change often so we are asking people to be patient as we work through the details,’ Tyson concluded.

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