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Most in-person hearings banned until May 1

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.

The restrictions on hearings had been set to expire April 17. The court has repeatedly extended its orders since first announcing the restrictions March 16.

The order continues to 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 that were in progress as of March 16;
  • 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 said that while such proceedings can be held in person if necessary, judges should use teleconferencing and video conferencing where possible.

“Missouri courts still must continue to carry out the core, constitutional functions of the Missouri judiciary as prescribed by law and continue to uphold the constitutional rights of litigants seeking redress in any Missouri court,” Chief Justice George W. Draper III said in the order.

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

For related items regarding CLE extension and the Western District going paperless, click here.

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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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