With more county facilities reopening on a weekly basis, some may think it’s back to normal for local courthouses, but that is not that case. Pima County courts have different schedules and regulations for reopening. Here’s what the public needs to know about the Arizona Superior Court, Tucson City Court and the Pima County Justice Court in the era of COVID-19.
On Monday, May 11, Arizona Superior Court issued an administrative order aimed at reducing the risk of spreading COVID as courts reopen. This order mandates that all people entering the courthouse or campus of the Superior Court will have their temperatures checked with touchless thermometers, are required to inform the court of any COVID-like symptoms, and are required to wear face masks. Anyone who registers a temperature above 100.4 F will not be permitted inside a court building. The court is also asking the public to delay all non-essential proceedings if possible. Regular jury duty for Pima County Superior Court is suspended until at least June 1.
"The Court has not been closed, but there has been confusion about that indeed," said Krisanne M. LoGalbo, public information officer for the superior court. "We have curtailed many in-person proceedings, and have restricted public admittance to some court, and clerk of court, offices. However, we’ve continued to hear matters deemed essential, including protection order requests, and addressing many other matters via video or conference call."
In addition, the Arizona Superior Court specifies “all hearings shall presumptively be conducted telephonically.” Judges can allow hearings for individual cases to take place in person. For criminal hearings, this includes initial appearances, arraignments and preliminary hearings. For civil hearings, this includes preliminary injunctions, election cases and temporary restraining orders. Also a wide range of probate and family hearings will be conducted over the phone.
However, Arizona Superior Court specifies that many juvenile hearings will be conducted in person, such as in-custody delinquency hearings, juvenile mental health hearings, dependency matters, and out of home placement hearings.
Tucson City Court, on the other hand, is extending their operational restrictions through June 1. At this point, the City Court is only open for public seeking orders of protection or appearing for related hearings. Otherwise, attendance—even for domestic violence court and mental health court—is limited to counsel, court staff, law enforcement and interpreters.
Attendance of anyone else in Tucson City Court will only be permitted with approval of a judge. However, Tucson City Court is operating a new walk-up service window where people can drop off in-person payments. The service window is located on the south side of the City Court building on Alameda Street.
According to Lisa Royal, court administrator of the Pima County Justice Court, the court has been working with a reduced staff who have been wearing masks for multiple weeks, working to conduct only essential services. The Justice Court anticipates a slow ramping back up, beginning with telephone and video appearances.
On April 30, Pima County Consolidated Justice Court passed an administrative order resuming some of their essential services: preliminary hearings, in-custody initial appearances, protected orders/contested hearings and civil hearings will occur through June 1. However, the court may conduct hearings by telephone or video. In addition, all jury and bench trials for the Pima County Justice Court have been postponed and court weddings are off until June.
Fine payments for the Justice Court will not be accepted in person but can be made online, by telephone or mail. In addition, the Justice Court has a secure drop box on the first floor for new case filings.