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Most in-person hearings banned until May

UPDATE: The Missouri Supreme Court once again has extended its near-ban on in-person hearings until at least May 1.

In an order dated April 1, the court suspended in-person proceedings in all appellate and circuit courts, including all associate, family, juvenile, municipal and probate divisions, as well as grand jury proceedings.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Missouri Supreme Court has extended its near-ban on in-person hearings until at least April 17.

In an order dated March 22, the court suspended in-person proceedings in all appellate and circuit courts, including all associate, family, juvenile, municipal and probate divisions, as well as grand jury proceedings.

The order supersedes a previous directive that had been set to expire on April 3.

RELATED: Legal community copes as most in-person proceedings canceled

As before, the order makes several exceptions. In-person hearings can be held for:

  • Proceedings necessary to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants, including the right to a speedy trial, and the rights afforded under section 544.676.3;
  • Proceedings pursuant to chapters 210 and 211 pertaining to juvenile delinquency and abuse, neglect, and termination of parental rights;
  • Proceedings pursuant to chapter 453 pertaining to adoption;
  • 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 the Supreme Court.

However, the order stressed that while such proceedings “can be held in person and must be if alternative technologies are not suitable or available,” judges should use teleconferencing and video conferencing where possible.

Circuit courts throughout the state have set their own restrictions. A list of orders is available on the Missouri Courts website.

CLE extension

Lawyers will have more time to report their continuing legal education hours during the COVID-19 crisis.

In a March 23 order, the Supreme Court said that, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the reporting year for 2019-2020 will be for the 15 months between July 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020.

The reporting deadline is extended to Oct. 31. Lawyers who fail to meet credit hour and reporting requirements by Dec. 31 are subject to the procedures and fees outlined in Court Rule 15.06.

Extra hours earned during 2019-2020 reporting year may be carried over to the next year.

Going paperless

On March 23, the Court of Appeals Western District suspended its rule requiring paper copies of briefs and transcripts to be filed with its office. “Attorneys should not forward or attempt to file any paper copies until further order of this Court,” the Western District said in an order.

Pro se litigants may still file copies of filings but are encouraged to use mail, email or  fax rather than in-person delivery. The Western District also has canceled oral arguments through April 30. It will take cases on briefs or via teleconference.

Coronavirus crisis

This item is part of Missouri Lawyers Media's free coverage of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the legal community.

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