In response to the Coronavirus Disease Pandemic, the Missouri courts have authorized phone and video communication and teleconferencing to provide access to the courts. This important move will allow individuals to access the courts in emergency situations without having to put themselves or others at risk of possible exposure to COVID-19.
If you have any questions about emergency court hearings for domestic violence, child custody, or other authorized emergency proceedings, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today. In anticipation of just such a scenario, our office is fully-equipped to provide remote and virtual legal assistance to the community. We can interact with our clients and the courts by phone, video chat, e-mail, and other ways to make sure you and your family are kept safe.
Using All Available Technologies
According to the announcement by the Supreme Court of Missouri, “All judges and court clerks are encouraged to utilize all available technologies – including e-mail, teleconferencing, and video conferencing – to further limit in-person courtroom appearances.”
The reason for allowing remote access to the courts is to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of the coronavirus. There are emergency matters that cannot wait days, weeks, or however long the outbreak continues. E-mail, electronic filing, teleconferencing, and video conferencing provide a way for the courts to continue operating without exposing the public or court workers to any unnecessary risk.
The courts are traditionally slow to adapt to new technologies. Lots of lawyers and judges like to do things the “old-fashioned way,” with paper filings, faxes, and in-person appearances. However, the Missouri Courts During COVID-19 are approving remote access during these extraordinary times.
Talk to your Missouri attorney about any court hearings or proceedings and whether these will require an in-person appearance or whether they can be conducted remotely. Talk to your attorney about the capability of their office to conduct hearings with the court and communicate with you during this emergency situation.
Limits to In-Person Hearings
The courts remain open. However, the courts have suspended in-person hearings, with limited exceptions, including:
- Proceedings necessary to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants and juveniles;
- Proceedings in which civil or criminal jury trials are already in progress as of March 16, 2020;
- Proceedings pursuant to chapter 455 pertaining to orders of protection;
- Proceedings related to emergency child custody orders;
- Proceedings related to petitions for temporary restraining orders or other forms of temporary injunctive relief;
- Proceedings related to emergency mental health orders;
- Proceedings pursuant to Chapter 475 for emergency guardianship or conservatorship;
- Proceedings directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- Oral arguments regarding time-sensitive matters; and
- Other exceptions approved by the Chief Justice of this Court.
The courts are also authorized to determine how any of the limited in-person hearings are to be conducted. For any necessary in-person proceedings, the court may limit access to only:
- Parties to the proceeding,
- Security officers, and
- Other individuals necessary to the proceeding.
Secure Technology for Communicating with Your Attorney
While the courts have approved “all available technologies” for court hearings, it is important that your attorney understands the need for secure access. Family court communications can be very sensitive, including information people want to keep private, especially when it concerns children.
Our virtual capable law firm takes your privacy and security very seriously. Our communications can be made secure and protected so they cannot be accessed by the public. This includes using encrypted messaging and password-protected files. If an unsecured communication about filing a domestic violence complaint is found by the abuser, it could put the victim at further risk.
We understand the need to support our community during these difficult times and will remain open for business to help you and your family. Our office is fully operational, with up-to-date technology, and our staff is safely working from the security of their homes. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today by calling (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.