CHARLESTON WV (WOWK) – The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has issued a protocol addressing concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus to ensure the court system remains open and functions as normally as possible.
“We want to keep courts open, but we want to do all we can to keep people safe,” said Chief Justice Tim Armstead. “In addition to the protocol for employees, the Court also is issuing guidance intended to ensure the safety of litigants and the public.”
The protocol encourages judicial officers to postpone proceedings that are not time-sensitive, use available technology such as conference calls and video conferencing to minimize person-to-person contact, and schedule dockets to limit the number of people gathering in large numbers, according to a press release from the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
The Court is also sending notices to give directions to parties, attorneys, witnesses, jurors and the public. For judicial employees, special sick leave will be provided under certain qualifying conditions, and out-of-state travel will be temporarily canceled except in special approved circumstances.
“This plan was carefully crafted based on guidance received from federal and state health officials, information obtained from the National Center for State Courts, and examples found in other jurisdictions. It is intended to balance health and safety concerns with the need to continue to provide an essential service to the citizens of the state,” said a letter from Supreme Court Administrative Director Joe Armstrong that accompanied the protocol. “We will continue to closely monitor the circumstances and will update and/or modify this plan as needed. Likewise, depending on future events, it may be necessary to take additional steps limited to a certain county, circuit, or region.”