The Douglas County Courthouse closed Tuesday after Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement of new restrictions intended to slow the spread of the COVID-19.

However, hearings, trials, jury duty and other court matters of the Douglas County Circuit Court are still operating on normal business hours — 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

According to Trial Court Administrator Tom Maxwell, the courts are encouraging the public to call as much as possible rather than coming in for questions.

“Out of concern for the public health and preventing the spread of COVID-19, the Douglas County Circuit Court operations are modified to reduce the number of people who need to come to the courthouse,” Maxwell said.

The modifications include postponing many trials and court proceedings and working to keep people from coming to the court facility unless they have essential matters that cannot be handled by phone.

Deferrals are being allowed for any juror who feels unable to serve at this time, such as those in high-risk categories or showing signs of illness. Concerned jurors can call 541-957-2472 for more information.

Oregon Chief Justice Martha L. Walters imposed restrictions on March 16 in hopes of slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. These restrictions, such as trial postponements, the evaluation of which employees are needed for court and which can work remotely and bans in-state and out-of-state work-related travel and bans internal meetings of five or more people, are in place until at least Friday, though they could be amended or extended at any time.

“We appreciate the assistance of the public in our efforts to limit the in-person contact at the court and in maintaining social distancing at all times,” Maxwell said. “We will adjust as the situation develops but are doing everything we can to serve the public while keeping the public and staff safe.”

Parties can check the status of their cases at 541-957-2400 or online at www.courts.oregon.gov/courts/douglas.

Douglas County South Justice Court in Canyonville remains open, though with limited in-person interaction. Numerous safety practices have been implemented to ensure the safety of the public and employees during the pandemic, such as processing as many cases by phone as possible, encouraging defendants to wait in their cars until their case is called rather than congregate in the court lobby or court room, only allowing 1-2 people in the court room at one time, reducing staff, sterilization between sessions and rescheduling of hearings when possible.

Douglas County South Justice Court can be reached at 541-839-4389.

Douglas County Justice Court in Reedsport will not be handling any cases in-person. Staff are available to respond to calls, emails and requests as efficiently as possible.

Visitors to the Reedsport Courthouse Annex will see a detailed posting on the outside door with various options for payment, email and phone number to call with questions and rescheduling information. For more info, contact 541-271-4868.

Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review. She can be reached at ewelch@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4218.

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Erica Welch is the special sections editor for The News-Review, mother of two and a native of Roseburg. She is an alumni of RHS, UCC and Western Oregon University. Contact her at ewelch@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4218.

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