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District, circuit courts closed until June

Court will not resume in Pike County until at least June 1.

Judge Jeff Kelly on Wednesday issued an order extending the suspension of in-person proceedings for the 12th Judicial Circuit until June 1. The order includes circuit courts and district courts.

“After consideration with the judges of the 12th Judicial Circuit, County Administrators of each county, the Circuit Clerks, the Sheriffs, District Attorney and Health officials, it has been determined that the safety and welfare of all court personnel and the public would be best served by extending the suspension,” he wrote in the order.

The Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended jury trials through the summer because of the coronavirus outbreak but allowed for presiding local judges to decide if in-person proceedings would continue. In the administrative order, justices said in-person court proceedings could resume beginning May 15 at the discretion of presiding local judges. Jury trials shall remain suspended until Sept. 14, the court said.

The court had earlier suspended in-person court proceedings, although hearings were happening by telephone and videoconference.

Stephen Curtis, district judge, said he had been preparing to resume court on Monday after the initial Supreme Court order, but on Thursday began rescheduling cases until after June 1.

“We’ll have to reschedule and we’ll get through this, but we will have a backlog for a little bit, he said.

Curtis said he has several traffic dockets that have been rescheduled, as well as juvenile proceedings and other cases.

Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough said her office will continue to operate under the existing Supreme Court Order that limits in-person contact.

“We’re still working and handling filings,” she said on Wednesday. “And for anyone who wants an absentee ballot, we ask that they call our office and we will mail one.”