New Rules in Las Vegas Courts to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

Amid the chaos and confusion relating to the recent global pandemic, another alteration has been made to citizens’ lives. This change involves the way the Clark County District Courts operate. As of March 13th, and set to be enforced at least through at least April 13th, all non-essential civil and criminal jury trials are being suspended in Clark County courts. Our Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers explain what you need to know.

Why Were the Changes to the Courts Made?

This change was made in a noble effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and was announced this week by Chief District Judge Linda Maria Bell. The order specifically states that all scheduled, non-essential court hearings should be conducted via video or telephone, or they can be entirely rescheduled.

Empty Las Vegas Courthouse

What Are Essential Court Hearings?

Court hearings that are considered “essential” will continue to be heard in-person. What does essential mean? These cases include bail motions, arraignments, in-custody criminal sentencing, and probation revocation hearings. As well, high-risk protective orders, civil temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions, and civil commitment cases are on the “essential” list.

Additional Restrictions on Who Can Enter the Courthouse

This new rule also includes a ban on who, exactly, can enter the courthouses. Regardless of whether the person is an employee, a citizen, or visiting the court for an essential hearing, the ban applies to everyone who has traveled to a country containing a coronavirus outbreak (over 30 countries total), including China and Italy.

Additionally, any individual who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone with the illness is restricted from entering. Finally, the ban includes individuals who have been asked to self-quarantine by their health-care provider, and anyone showing symptoms of the illness.

Every attempt possible is being made to keep citizens and workers for Clark County safe during this trying time.

Protective Measures Enforced

Judge Bell also stated that courthouse employees who share technological equipment such as computers, phones, or copiers should “take extra care to wipe down those surfaces.” Signs have been placed all around the Regional Justice Center, reminding people of the many ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Deputy marshals are now wearing protective hand gloves to help stop the spread of germs when dealing with the public.

The Supreme Court posted a notice earlier this week that encouraged lawyers to make oral arguments via video conferences in cases, instead of appearing in person in court. And Chief U.S. District Judge Miranda Du expressed that the federal system in the state of Nevada continues to await further guidance from health experts to determine any additional rules or restrictions that will be enforced state-wide.

Essential Court Hearings Allowed to Continue; All Others Postponed for 30 Days

To review: all non-essential court hearings in Clark County courts have been temporarily postponed for the next 30-days, to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The hearings that are considered essential and will continue in-person, include the following:

  • In-custody criminal sentencing
  • Bail motions
  • Probation revocation hearings
  • Domestic protection orders
  • Juvenile delinquency matters
  • Abuse and neglect preliminary protective hearings
  • High-risk protective orders
  • Criminal arraignments
  • Civil commitment cases
  • Guardianship matters, except for compliance hearings
  • Civil temporary restraining order and preliminary/permanent injunctive relief hearings
  • Probate petitions for orders of cremation
  • Case-by-case exceptions may be made by a judge, but no jury-trials will be held; those cases are suspended until further notice

Stay safe and well, and continue taking all precautionary measures to protect yourself and your loved ones.


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