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COVID-19 prompts new court protocols, employee tests positive for the virus

County court employee tests postive for coronavirus

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • The Administrative Office of the Courts on April 23 announced new protocols for McKinley and San Juan County district and magistrate courts.
  • All Navajo Nation Judicial Branch facilities remain closed to the public through May 29, according to a Judicial Branch press release
  • People seeking an emergency temporary protection order can obtain them during non-business hours by calling Shiprock Dispatch at 505-368-1350.

FARMINGTON — The New Mexico and Navajo Nation courts continue to operate at a limited capacity with new procedures in place due to the coronavirus as one employee of the San Juan County courts tests positive for COVID-19.

An employee of the Eleventh Judicial District and Magistrate Courts in San Juan County has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Administrative Office of the Courts Spokeswoman Beth Wojahn.

District, Magistrate Courts

The Administrative Office of the Courts on April 23 announced new protocols for McKinley and San Juan County district and magistrate courts to reduce the amount of people visiting courthouses, according to a press release.

Those with an upcoming court appearance are urged to attend the hearing remotely by telephone or through video conferencing. Citizens are asked to call the courts if they have not received notice with instructions on how to attend by video conferencing or telephone.

More:NM Supreme Court reacts to coronavirus, criminal jury trials suspended until April 30

Citizens without telephone or technology access will be allowed to appear in person for their hearing.

Those entering a courthouse will have to answer three questions, and if they answer "yes" to any of the questions, they will not be allowed inside.

Those questions including if they or a household member traveled out of state within the last 14 days; if they had contact with anyone with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last two weeks and if they had any cough, fever and difficulty breathing in last 14 days.

Some procedures enacted in March will continue including allowing documents or lawsuits to be filed through email.

The in-person visitations required by state district courts for neglect and abuse cases remain suspended. The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department is providing video or telephonic visits between children and parents.

Aztec District Court is pictured on March 17, 2020. New Mexico and Navajo Nation courts have taken new steps to limit the number of people in courthouses to help protect the public and employees from the coronavirus.

Jury trials in civil and criminal cases are also suspended until May 29.

The state Supreme Court also ordered a stay on evictions from landlords and those unable to pay rent on a mobile home lot in March.

Keep readingNM Supreme Court temporarily halts evictions due to coronavirus

Those facing evictions must provide a judge with evidence of their inability to pay their rent if a landlord files paperwork to start the eviction process.

Navajo Courts

All Navajo Nation Judicial Branch facilities remain closed to the public through May 29, according to a Judicial Branch press release.

The Navajo Nation Chief Justice JoAnn Jayne approved telephonic communication for executive staff and administrative leave for other employees through May 29.

All courts and programs are operating with minimal staff to prevent spread of COVID-19, and employees on administrative leave could be called on to help deliver essential services.

Others are reading:Filing period delayed for candidates to submit paperwork for Navajo Nation election

Judicial Branch employees are also required to wear a face cloth or mask — with no exceptions — while working in a facility.

Court documents can be filed with Navajo Nation courts by email, fax and mail as the public is encouraged to call the court to ensure paperwork is received.

Petitions for a domestic abuse protection order can found in a downloadable form at www.navajocourts.org. Completed forms can be sent via email to nnsrcourt@navajo-nsn.gov to the Shiprock Family Court.

People seeking an emergency temporary protection order can obtain them during non-business hours by calling Shiprock Dispatch at 505-368-1350.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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