Court duties, cases limited amid coronavirus outbreak

Published 2:59 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

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The Pike County Courthouse is limiting court appearances and duties amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.

The Alabama Supreme Court issued an order Friday night requiring courts to limit public contact, with exceptions, for a 30-day period.

Beginning Monday, my office will be closed to the public, for non-emergency issues,” said Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough. “Defendants will not be penalized for non-payment of fines, if payments are normally made in-person.”

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Emergency petitions, restraining orders, and protection order are all included in the exceptions.

District court cases that were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday with Judge Stephen Curtis have been continued to a later date due to the virus. However, Scarbrough said anyone scheduled for an upcoming court appearance should call the circuit clerk’s office to confirm any continuance of cases.

The April 6 jury term has also been cancelled due to the outbreak and official cancellation notices are being mailed out to all summoned for jury duty that day.

For other business of the circuit clerk’s office, Scarbrough said a lockbox has been placed outside the office for any filings. Cash payments should not be left in the lockbox.

“Along with the dropbox, all forms for PFA’s, affidavits of hardship, etc. will be on a table outside of my office,” Scarbrough said. “We are not in panic mode – we have a very high volume of customers (all ages and health conditions) and are only limiting exposure and becoming carriers to others whose health could be compromised. We do not have a glass barrier at our counter, which is one reason we are taking greater precautions.”

Absentee ballot applications can be picked up outside the circuit clerk’s office, but they will have to be mailed in with a copy of a valid photo ID. Once runoff ballots arrive, Scarbrough said the office will be able to process applications there to allow for immediate voting. Until then, she advises residents to call and request an absentee application to bypass coming to the courthouse altogether.

Secretary of State John Merrill has issued an emergency request to the Alabama attorney general to postpone the runoff election, but that request has not yet been approved.