By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Circuit court restrictions in place

All Yamhill County Circuit Court proceedings are restricted to Courtroom 241 during the coronavirus pandemic.

The courtroom is generally occupied by Presiding Judge Cynthia Easterday. Judges Jennifer Chapman, John Collins and Ladd Wiles are vacating their courtrooms and occupying 241 for proceedings through Thursday, April 30.

Chief Justice Martha Walters released the following statement:

“We will do our best to provide people their day in court when we can safely do so, and we will pursue options for continuing our work without requiring in-person appearances, but, at the present time, limiting the number of people coming into our courtrooms and courthouses is paramount.”

Courtroom 241 better accommodates social distancing, Easterday said.

During a plea and sentencing held last week in 241, the courtroom was occupied only by Chapman, her assistant, the deputy district attorney, defense attorney, one citizen and four deputies, three of whom sat apart from one another in the back of the courtroom. The defendant appeared by video from jail.

Postponed proceedings, of which there are undoubtedly many, will be held later. As they are rescheduled, a new notice will be generated and either emailed or mailed to the defense attorney, who would inform their clients, Easterday said.

Lawyers and defendants with questions can call the circuit court calendar office at 503-434-7489 for information related to a specific case.

All hearings are continued to a date not prior to Friday, May 1.

Exceptions would be the following:

In-custody criminal including arraignments, probable cause, probation violation, pleas, grand jury proceedings, civil commitment, protective custody orders, shelter, in-detention delinquency, protective order applications, contested protective order, immediate danger, temporary guardianship/conservatorship and any other hearings Easterday deems necessary.

The courtroom will be open for hearings as scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Phones will continue to be answered during the same time frames.

All proceedings will be conducted by telephone conference or video.

Online services include Oregon Judicial Department ePay — www.courts.oregon.gov/services/online/Pages/epay.aspx — for fines related to citations.

Yamhill County court office operations taking place in rooms 135 and 128 will be closed for in-person services from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Criminal clerks, cashiers and civil and probate clerks occupy Room 135. Family law clerks work in 128.

Court office employee Melissa Gates said she has been ordered to work from home until at least Friday, March 27. The hours she and her co-workers are receiving are very limited.

Easterday also announced that parties may continue to file pleadings and other documents, and are encouraged to use e-filing to its fullest extent. Documents filed electronically that require a judge’s signature are being processed in the normal course of business.

As court offices remain open, there is limited staff on site. Many employees are working remotely.

“We are taking necessary measures to maintain a safe and sanitary space for all employees and patrons,” Easterday said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to determine how to provide essential court services safely and effectively.”

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