Idaho Supreme Court changes COVID-19 protocols to allow some in-person hearings, optional masks

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Posted at 1:31 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 15:31:27-04

The Idaho Supreme Court updated its COVID-19 precautions Thursday.

The Supreme Court issued an updated COVID-19 Emergency Order with new guidelines for court hearings and access. The order includes changes to procedures for hearings as well as face mask policy in accordance with recent state and national health guidelines, according to a news release from the Idaho Supreme Court.

"With the public’s assistance, these and previous orders ensured Idaho’s courts remained open throughout the past 14 months to anyone who wished to bring or defend a claim — and protected the health and safety of court participants and staff," according to a statement from the court. "Today’s order reflects recent changes to medical guidance regarding COVID-19 and a move toward more traditional court operations while maintaining appropriate precautions and protections."

The majority of the new order goes into effect immediately, according to the release.

The newly issued COVID-19 order states:

  • Hearings are no longer presumed to be held remotely through videoconferencing or other means. Rather, judges will decide case by case whether proceedings in their courtrooms will be held in person, unless their district’s administrative district judge directs otherwise.
  • Social distancing is still required in Idaho courthouses. All people participating in a court proceeding or doing other court business must remain at least six feet away from anyone who is not a member of their household.
  • People accessing an Idaho courthouse are not required to wear a mask, but the Court strongly encourages them to do so. Upon request, the judge overseeing any specific hearing may require all participants to wear a mask to protect an unvaccinated or immunocompromised participant.
  • Jury trials and grand jury proceedings may still be postponed if local COVID-19 incidence rates cross a certain threshold — or if an administrative district judge determines other circumstances exist that pose a substantial increase in the health or safety risks to jury trial participants.
  • Prospective jurors will still be asked to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire. Jurors meeting certain conditions may be eligible to postpone their jury service for six months.