Seventh Judicial Court officials in Concordia and Catahoula officials completed plans Monday to return to an amended court schedule in the courtrooms in Vidalia and Harrisonburg next week.
District Attorney Brad Burget said the meeting was held following Gov. John Bel Edwards announcement that the state will move to Phase One of the White House Covid-19 guidance on Friday, May 15, removing the Stay at Home order and allowing businesses to open under strict occupancy protection and social distancing guidelines.
Attending the meeting Monday in the Concordia Parish Police Jury Meeting Room were Burget, Seventh Judicial District Court Judges Kathy Johnson and John Reeves, Assistant District Attorneys Ann Siddell and Austin Lipsey, Public Defender Attorney Derrick Carson, Public Defender Secretary/Paralegal Judy Pugh, Seventh Judicial District Court Administrator Yolanda McClure and Concordia Police Jury Secretary-Treasurer Sandi Burley.
He said criminal matters will begin Tuesday, May 19 in Harrisonburg, and Wednesday, May 20, in Vidalia.
Individuals incarcerated locally or statewide will be have their cases processed electronically.
“We will be able to record, and attorneys and judges will be present for whatever needs to be placed on the record whether that be an arraignment, plea, magistrate and a lot of different things that we can handle virtually,” he said.
He said those not incarcerated will be asked to come to the courthouse. Only five or six cases will be handled inside the courtroom at any one time.
Deputies in both parishes will take the temperatures of those needing to enter the courtrooms.
“We encourage all to wear their own masks,” Burget said. “We will be able to provide a mask to anyone who does not have one and we’ll have hand sanitizer.”
He also said social distancing will be practiced in the courthouse and the courtroom.
He said the Police Jury custodian staffs will continuously disinfect courtroom “to make it as safe as possible. Court is an open public forum, but we will limit public participation unless an individual has court.”
Concerning civil matters, Burget said that those with cases should contact their attorney to get on the court docket and to be scheduled for any hearings or motions needed.
“If anyone has a court date, they should show up but if unsure, contact our office or the judge’s office,” Burget said.
“The wheels of justice need to start rolling again,” he said, “but if someone feels ill or sick but has a court date, please contact our office so we can talk about it.”