In an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus several courts across the United States are moving towards special restrictions and precautions. States have started to declare an emergency over the Covid-19 and legal systems in several places have come to a near halt as courthouses have decided to postpone court hearings and sessions in the coming weeks.
Federal courts in Massachusetts and Connecticut have decided to postpone the jury trials at least till mid-April. State courts in Michigan have decided to stop the civil and criminal trials for the time being unless the defendant is already in custody or the case involves a vulnerable person. San Diego County Superior Court system is also said to be postponing the jury trials for the next 30 days following the state health guidelines about the gathering of large crowds.
The limitations of large public gatherings
States like Connecticut, Virginia and New York are few of the states to declare a state of emergency with the growing number of infections. The main restriction behind the hopeful containment of the Covid-19 is the reduced public gatherings. The Centre for Disease Control has advised the public to follow social distancing in order to reduce any possible spread of the disease.
Certain courthouses aren't following the extreme measures adopted by most of the courts across the country. The federal courthouses in Manhattan and White Plains are continuing with the sessions as per schedule with near normalcy. These courthouses are just 15 miles away from New Rochelle which is a containment zone and are continuing the naturalization ceremonies as well. But, the guest's limitation has been set to one.
Both the courthouses have placed a restriction on people who have travelled to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, and Iran in the past 14 days or so in order to reduce the likelihood of an infected person entering the court. Northern District of California and the Central District the courthouses are functioning normally. The screening process is placed in several courthouses in the country. The Supreme court has closed the door for visits on Thursday. The justices won't take the bench till the end of March.
Not just the courthouses
The fear has prompted changes in several public gatherings and not just courts. The prisons are also places where people have expressed the fear of the coronavirus spreading. There have been enhanced screening procedures set up while people visit the prison.
The people held in the immigration detention centres and borders are also easily prone to the infection. Human Rights activists are requesting their release with the heightened risk of getting the infection. American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Columbia Legal Services has requested the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release the people detained in the centres.