The U.S. District Court in Washington on Thursday suspended trials and grand juries until June 11 and closed public access to the court clerk, expanding and extending a partial judgment previously announced in response by one month coronavirus emergency.
The move comes as federal district courts in neighboring Maryland and eastern Virginia implemented emergency plans, shutting down the courthouses in Greenbelt, Maryland and Newport News, Virginia, respectively, to serve as an emergency courthouse if necessary if other state federal courthouses become unusable. . This is not an option for the Washington District Court, which operates from a single facility, the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, which also houses the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and National Security focused on national security. Intelligence surveillance court.
Neither of the last two courts announced changes on Thursday. However, in a seven-page order, US District Chief Justice Beryl A. Howell of the district cited the stay-at-home orders issued Monday by the district mayor and the governors of Maryland and Virginia and the closings of non-essential businesses, “reflecting the seriousness of the need to combat the community-wide spread of the virus. Officials in Maryland and D.C. have not given an end date for their actions, while officials in Virginia remain in effect until June 10 or until further notice.
The Washington Federal Court previously restricted access to the courthouse to judges, staff and those on official business only. As originally ordered on March 17, limited criminal, civil and bankruptcy operations will continue to ensure public safety, including initial accused appearances and detention hearings, which will take place by videoconference when possible.
In a new restriction, however, the district court cut off public access to the clerk of the court reception desks and computer terminals, and authorized emergency and sealed deposits by email rather than in person . No reason was given for this change.
Thursday, United States Chief Justice Mark S. Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia announced the closure of one of the district’s four courthouses to Newport News and its designation as “Emergency Judicial Center “. Davis said in an order that the courthouse “will be sanitized and preserved for safe use, to serve as a place of” last resort “for court proceedings” if the other three district courthouses in Alexandria, Norfolk and Richmond are “made unusable.” “
Maryland Chief Justice James K. Bredar of Maryland closed the state’s federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Maryland on March 18, while consolidating procedures at his Baltimore courthouse, in part to reduce the number of employees needed and to improve concentration and efficiency in health. screening. In an order, Bredar said that the greenbelt facility would remain sufficiently endowed “to maintain the ability to hear emergency procedures in a short time when unique circumstances make this necessary and appropriate.”