Echoing a state Supreme Court order, Butler County's administrative judge has removed all coronavirus restrictions on the government center and returned the building, including the courts, to normal operations Monday.
As COVID-19 began to spread, Judge William Shaffer, acting administrative judge in the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, enacted restrictions March 18 allowing access to the courthouse, county government center and courtrooms to only those who had direct business there. The order, along with the Supreme Court one, brought a halt to all eviction hearings and jury trials in criminal and civil cases.
The Supreme Court extended the order several times to continue the statewide judicial emergency through May 31, and issued an order to end the statewide judicial emergency June 1.
The Supreme Court and local orders allow district, county and appeals courts mostly closed to the public and operating on a limited basis since March to reopen Monday.
At the time of the March order, there were there are 207,855 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8,648 deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization. As of Friday, there were 5,701,337 confirmed cases and 357,688 deaths globally.
Monday's court schedule has dozens of defendants slated to appear for formal arraignments and other regular criminal case proceedings. Under the expired order, these proceedings were rescheduled, but now they will be able to take place.
“Who knows what the new normal will look like?” said District Attorney Richard Goldinger. “I don't think we'll know fully until the first two weeks of June are over, and once the dust settles we'll see where everything stands. We'll be very busy next two weeks, keeping track of things and people. But we're ready for it.”
This is an excerpt from a larger article that appeared in Friday's Butler Eagle. Subscribe online or in print to read the full article.