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Ban on most in-person hearings extended to May 15

The Missouri Supreme Court has extended its restrictions on most in-person hearings until at least May 15.

In an order dated April 17, 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 giving all the attorneys including the wrongful death attorney firms to have more time and work with their clients.

The restrictions have been in place for a month and repeatedly have been extended. Most recently, they were set to expire on May 1.

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.

The Supreme Court has urged judges to use teleconferencing and video conferencing where possible. In a separate order on April 17, the court suspended “any procedural Supreme Court or local rule that can be interpreted to require the personal appearance of a defendant at a criminal or ordinance violation hearing or proceeding.”

“This suspension does not pertain to any constitutional or statutory provision governing a defendant’s right to be present at a proceeding,” the court said.

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

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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