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COVID-19: Local court closures and alterations in procedures

Posted by Scott A. Staples | Aug 06, 2020 | 0 Comments

In our current COVID-19 situation, information about local court closures and alterations in procedures change frequently, sometimes by the day. While I can't be sure what I write about this will be current for long, it seems likely the situation I write about will be with us for a while: namely that Clark County courts are open, but operating in a limited and altered manner for the foreseeable future.

Here is the latest:

  • As of June 16, face masks are required at the courthouse, the juvenile courthouse, and the family law annex. Entry will be refused without one. Exceptions include certain children, those with disabilities making it difficult for them to don/doff the mask easily, and those who need to read lips to communicate.
  • Social distancing is required inside the courthouse, and no one displaying symptoms is allowed to enter.
  • On the Superior Court family law docket, oral argument is being limited and many proceedings are being done remotely, by video conference.
  • Superior Court civil dockets are proceeding by video conferencing, or in person when social distancing is possible.
  • Superior Court unlawful detainer (eviction) dockets are canceled through at least August 1.
  • Superior Court jury trials have resumed as of July 6, but heightened distancing and sanitation protocols are in place, jury selection will be conducted in a large exhibition hall at the fairgrounds, and reportedly each jury trial will take up two courtrooms (so jurors can deliberate in and retire for breaks to a much larger room than they'd typically have access to). Jurors at high risk can get a postponement.
  • All District Court dockets are being held remotely.
  • District Court criminal trials are postponed until at least September 1, 2020.
  • District Court civil trials are postponed until at least January 1, 2021.

The complete list of emergency orders and procedures can be found on the main web pages for Clark County Superior and District Court, and this column will be updated as the situation develops. 

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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