Arizona’s high court orders gradual reopening of state’s court system
PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court has issued procedural direction for Arizona’s courts and the public for returning to in-court operations.
Chief Justice Robert Brutinel issued Administrative Order 2020-75 on Tuesday which includes guidelines for in-person proceedings, empaneling juries, limiting access to courthouses and courtrooms, implementing social distancing and using technology as necessary to continue court functions.
“Arizona’s courts are beginning the process of returning to normal operations, consistent with protecting the health and safety of the public and of court employees,” Brutinel said in a press release.
“This process will happen gradually and courts across the state of Arizona will take all necessary and reasonable steps to ensure that our facilities are clean and safe and that appropriate distancing is observed.”
In-person proceedings will initially only occur when deemed necessary; court operations will otherwise function in a remote capacity.
As of June 1, anybody entering Arizona’s court buildings is required to wear a protective face covering.
When the public is not permitted to physically attend a court proceeding, the court has been directed to provide video or audio access.
In an effort to alleviate trial backlogs, Brutinel’s order permits courts to call fewer jurors and reduces the reassignment of judges to hear trials — measures that will both expire Dec. 31.
The implementation of alternative staffing schedules and screening for illnesses are required as courts resume as in-person proceedings.
Courts are permitted to deny entry to individuals who fail health screening tests and must continue enforcing social distancing practices mandated in a prior order.
Administrative Order 2020-75 replaced Administrative Order 2020-70, which was issued on April 24 and limited in-court functions and mandated courts follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations regarding social distancing.