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Media Contact for Supreme Judicial Court Issues New Order On Public Access to Courthouses and Facilities
Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago
BOSTON, MA — The Supreme Judicial Court today issued an updated order regarding public access to Massachusetts state courthouses and court facilities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The order will go into effect July 13, 2020.
Under a previous order, Third Updated Order Regarding Court Operations Under The Exigent Circumstances Created By The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic, the SJC outlined that courthouses will physically reopen to the public for limited purposes, including some in-person proceedings, on July 13, 2020, but courts will continue to conduct most business virtually. The number of in-person proceedings will further expand during a second phase beginning on August 10, 2020.
The order issued today applies to (a) litigants, attorneys, witnesses, jurors, law enforcement personnel, contractors, vendors, media, and other members of the public when in or seeking entry to a Massachusetts state courthouse or other state court facility, including a probation office or a building that is temporarily being used for court proceedings (courthouse); and (b) non-court personnel whose place of work is in a courthouse (e.g., employees of a Registry of Deeds or the Social Law Library) whenever they are in the courthouse but outside of their immediate place of work.
When courthouses reopen on July 13, entry will be limited to persons attending in-person proceedings, persons conducting business with a clerk’s, register’s, or recorder’s office, persons meeting with probation, and persons conducting business at other open offices in the courthouses. Persons seeking to enter will be screened to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order outlines a specific screening protocol for those who wish to enter a courthouse.
The SJC today also issued a Supplemental Order Regarding Virtual Proceedings and Administration of Oaths and Affirmations.
All orders, standing orders, guidelines, and notices issued by any court department or appellate court in response to the pandemic, as well as all amendments, modifications, and supplements are posted upon issuance on the judiciary's COVID-19 webpage.