Local town justice courts need to get partitions in place for judges, attorneys

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 August 2020 at 12:07 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Public Defender Joanne Best speaks to local officials during last week’s meeting of the Orleans County Association of Municipalities, which was held at Tillman’s Village Inn.

ALBION – Orleans County Public Defender Joanne Best said the local town justice courts are in the process of reopening but many still need to have partitions in place for judges and attorneys.

The local town courts started to reopen for cases last month. Some of the court rooms are only allowing 10 people inside the courtrooms at a time. With the judge, court clerk, stenographer, district attorney, public defender and defendant, the space is already more than half full.

Best addressed local officials last week during the monthly Orleans County Association of Municipalities meeting. She told them many of the town hall buildings still need to become Covid-19 compliant for court.

That includes Plexiglass dividers in front of judges and between attorneys and their clients at the attorney-client rooms. The attorney-client rooms also need to have enough space to allow for social distancing.

Best said those protections need to be in place “or we can’t send attorneys in,” she said.

She said she has some temporary dividers in her office that the courts can use until they get their own in place.

“Whatever your feelings are about it, we are being directed to have PPE and shields (in the courts),” Best told the local officials.

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