Local courts largely shut down with cases adjourned

Photos by Tom Rivers: The main courtroom at the Orleans County Courthouse is seeing far fewer cases due to the coronavirus health concerns.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2020 at 1:00 pm

ALBION – The court system is largely on hiatus until further notice due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

In Orleans County, the 10 town court systems are closed. The county court system has adjourned cases to May 1 with no trials scheduled and the grand jury suspended.

A 1-gallon jug of hand sanitizer made by state inmates is placed on the metal detectors leading to the hallway in the courthouse. Many of the local government offices have hand sanitizer made by state inmates.

Judge Sanford Church is handling arraignments from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday. The local town justices may be called for arraignments outside of the 9 to 5 time frame.

Judges will also issue orders of protection and address any license issues, for example if someone has a license suspended due to a driving while intoxicated charge.

Lawrence Marks, chief administrative judge of NYS Unified Court System, has advised the courts of the procedures “to reduce courthouse traffic to combat spread of coronavirus and protect the health and safety of our workforce,” according to a letter on March 13.

Attorneys are urged to use Skype and other videoconferencing, or teleconferencing to discuss cases with clients.

Court dates have been moved back in the court calendar. Defendants will be notified of new court dates by the town and county court facilities.

“All other business not deemed urgent has been put off until courts are back in session,” said District Attorney Joe Cardone.

County Court was held briefly this morning for Judge Church to do one arraignment and consider two extraditions.

Cardone said the county’s traffic diversion program will continue while the town and county courts are largely on hold.

Most traffic tickets can be handled online and doesn’t involve court involvement.

Although the Public Safety Building is closed to the public, Cardone said the offices at the building are staffed and can be reached by telephone.

The county website, www.orleansny.com, is currently undergoing maintenance so the link isn’t available for the traffic diversion program. For more information, contact the District Attorney’s office at (585) 590-4130.

This sign leading to the entrance for the Orleans County court system urges people to consider if they have any symptoms of coronavirus before opening the door.

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