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Pratt County Courthouse opens with restrictions

Gale Rose
The Pratt County Courthouse has remained open but with restrictions posted at the front door. Those needing services are still encouraged to call.

Certain aspects of life have to continue even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Pratt County Courthouse has been on lock-

down for weeks but business has continued with restrictions. As much business as possible is being done electronically but for business that has to be done in person, departments have set up an appointment system. The person calls the appropriate office to make an appointment. At the appointment time, the person shows up at the door on the west side of the building and waits for a person from the department to come to the door and let them to conduct their business, said Pratt County Clerk Lori Voss.

County commissioners determine when the courthouse will open its doors again and they are following the governor’s guidelines. The county commission has been meeting in special sessions on Fridays to discuss the governor’s latest policy on reopening the state.

The legal system across the country has also had to make adjustments. Many cases have been continued but plans are in place to get the wheels of justice running again, even if it looks different than usual.

Clerk of the District Court Crystal Gossett said a small docket of 12 cases is planned for May 27. Some of those are status cases and can be handled over the phone with attorneys.

Another docket is set for June 1. An average docket would have 50 cases but the June 1 docket has just 16. Keeping the number of cases down will continue for the time being.

“We’re going to keep the dockets pretty small,” Gossett said.

Gossett said she would be taking the temperature of everyone before they go into the courtroom. There will be a dated sign in sheet with everyones name and phone number. In case someone who attends court on any given day happens to test positive for COVID-19, the sign-in information will be used to contact the people who were there on that day.

The number of people allowed in the courtroom will be limited to 12. Gossett said she has marked seats with duct tape to help maintain social distance. She will meet people in the lobby and escort them upstairs to the courtroom.

Groups will be kept small and spread out.

These guidelines also effect the courtroom on the fourth floor of the courthouse where traffic cases, misdemeanors and first appearances are held.

The court system also has to follow guidelines set by the Kansas Supreme Court on operations of courtrooms.