CHIEF JUSTICE ISSUES ORDER REGARDING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Salt Lake City, UT— Utah Chief Justice Matthew Durrant has issued an order outlining a first set of guidelines for the state court system as it confronts COVID-19.
“The health and safety of those who come into our courthouses and courtrooms seeking justice is a deep concern for me, our court staff, and our judges. We are also deeply concerned about the safety of our employees,” Durrant said. “At the same time, the mission-critical work of the courts must continue. Over the years, the Utah Judiciary has planned extensively for different types of emergencies, including a pandemic, so that we can continue our work when events like this occur.”
Chief Justice Durrant’s order follows Gov. Gary Herbert’s declaration of a statewide emergency earlier this week and the World Health Organization’s announcement that COVID-19 has become a pandemic. The order directs courts statewide to begin taking steps to lessen the impact of the virus by using measures like social distancing, sanitary precautions, and conducting business using technology. The Courts recognize that we all have an obligation to take steps to try to slow the spread of the virus in our communities. We are cancelling non-essential group gatherings, and we are working with our community partners, including sheriffs, prosecutors, defense attorneys and others, to cancel non-essential proceedings and to transition proceedings to video hearings where possible.
Additional orders and guidelines will be issued as the need arises. Utah’s state court system intensified our emergency preparedness planning in 2009 in response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic. We have updated our plan in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Any member of the public who has a question about court operations during the pandemic should consult the Utah Court website at utcourts.gov, which includes Covid-19 alerts.