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Court Closures

Posted by Scott A. Staples | May 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

It's been my observation that during the COVID-19 pandemic we have been for the most part able to continue to vigorously pursue our clients' cases with success. The one exception seems to be jury trials, which due to statewide and federal court orders may not be available for quite some time yet.  We will try and keep this blog current with information about our local courts' operations, but as of now local courts are operating in a very limited manner.

That certainly does not mean courts are completely closed. What all they are doing and how exactly they are doing it is beyond the scope of this post. For details, visit here (Clark County Superior Court), here (Clark County District Court), and here (Multnomah County Circuit Court). In this post I focus on the matters impacting our clients most- civil case motions and jury trials. 

Our local court closures here in Clark County began on March 18. As of April 14, all jury and bench trials (in both criminal and civil cases) were being canceled until at least May 4. Then on April 30, the state Supreme Court ordered that civil jury trials be suspended until at least July 6. This latest order also says that non-emergency civil matters (presumably including motion hearings in civil cases) may be continued until after June 1, but courts should begin hearing those matters so long as they can be conducted by phone, video, or other remote means, or in person with strict social distancing protocols.  This is at least one piece of good news for our clients and their cases, because the ability to get summary judgment and other motions decided helps get cases moved and resolved.

If you have a matter pending before one of our courts that might be impacted by these delays, contact your lawyer first (if you have one) to discuss it, or contact court administration if you do not have a lawyer to find out more about how the courts are handling delayed matters.  

Given all the uncertainty surrounding so much of this, it is impossible to tell at this moment whether the closures and restrictions will go beyond July 6. We'll all be holding tight until such time as things get back to normal, or as close to it as we can muster. At Schauermann Thayer we will continue to do what we've already been doing- rigorously preparing our cases for trial so they are ready to go when the courts reopen.

About the Author

Scott A. Staples

Scott Staples came on board in 2006 as a clerk during law school, and joined the firm as an associate attorney in 2007. He was made a shareholder in the firm in 2010. Scott graduated, cum laude, from Washington State University Vancouver with a BA in English, and obtained his Juris Doctorate from Willamette University College of Law, with cum laude honors there as well. He has successfully represented clients in a variety of different types of injury cases, including auto collisions, premises liability, animal attacks, watercraft accidents, and construction site injuries. He has appeared, and won, before the Washington State Supreme Court (Weismann v. Safeco, 2012). Scott has volunteered time for the past several years at the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Housing Justice Project. He has previously served on the new member and membership committees for the Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), and has acted as chair and co-chair of the WSAJ Clark County Roundtable. He is a member of the Washington and Oregon State Bar Associations, WSAJ and OTLA (state trial lawyer organizations), and is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Washington and Oregon. Scott was born and raised in Vancouver, attending Vancouver public schools and graduating from Hudson's Bay High School. He enjoys playing recreational basketball and softball, skiing, and spending time with his wife and three children.

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