Berrien County Trial Court to return to phase two Monday

BERRIEN COUNTY – Berrien County Trial Court is moving forward with its phased reopening plan.

In compliance with the Michigan Supreme Court’s Administrative Orders 2020-14 and 2020-19, the Berrien County Trial Court has been following the phased re-opening plan found in the MSC’s Return to Full Capacity plan.

The Trial Court has announced that due to declining rates of positive COVID-19 cases in the county, the Court may return to phase two effective Monday, Feb. 1.

The Self-Help Legal Resource Center will remain open for e-mail and phone assistance only. Community members requiring the assistance of the self-help center should contact the line at (269) 983-7111 ext.8790 or LRC@BerrienCounty.org.

The court will not allow walk-in filings at this time. All filings must be completed by mail, drop-box delivery or e-mail.

Only parties to the case will be allowed in the facilities for the limited, in-person hearings scheduled. Hearings are available to the public as they have been during the pandemic through the court video request process, at the court’s website free of charge. Jury trials will continue to be livestreamed to the court’s YouTube page.

All individuals coming into the buildings will be required to complete a health screening prior to admittance. All members of the public will be required to wear a face covering at all times while in the courthouse facilities. If any individual does not pass the health screening or is unwilling to wear a face covering, the individual will be turned away and given means to contact the court to reschedule their appearance or conduct their business with the court in another fashion.

At the St. Joseph courthouse, the Trial Court will be leveraging additional technology to check-in members of the public for their hearing. A text messaging system will be utilized to inform the public of when their case is being called, so individuals are encouraged to bring their cellular devices for ease of communication.

Cellphones and other electronic devices are now allowed into the courthouse facilities, which was made effective May 1, 2020, per MCR 8.115, but no recording or photography is allowed and all devices must be silenced upon entry into the buildings.

The Niles courthouse location will not be using a text messaging system for entrance at this time. Attendees are still able to bring their cellular devices to the building under the same rules. Additional information regarding the use of cellular devices is posted at each public entrance and outside of each courtroom.

The public is encouraged to visit the Trial Court’s website at berriencounty.org/1058/Trial-Court for additional information, including how to contact each division of the court. Frequently asked questions are available online as well as full copies of all administrative orders.

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