The Arkansas Supreme Court released an order today that said the Justice Building, closed to the public last March because of the pandemic, reopened to the public for in-person business in the clerk’s office June 1 and “we anticipate that other portions of the building will reopen in the near future.”
The order, which also changes the existing order on remote court proceedings, applies to all courts and court clerks. On remoted court, the order says:
On November 20, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented certain protocols to maintain the safety of jurors, litigants, attorneys, court personnel, and the public. Among those protocols was the following:
If any attorney, party, witness, or a member of their immediate family or household, has an underlying medical condition that places them at higher risk for contracting COVID-19, they may choose to participate remotely, preferably by videoconference, in a court proceeding, and no further explanation shall be required. If the proceeding cannot be held remotely, a continuance shall be granted.
Our Committee on Civil Practice recommends that we abandon this protocol concerning requests for remote participation, and we find that it is no longer necessary in light of the continued downward trend in COVID-19 infection rates. Therefore, effective immediately, requests for remote participation shall be resolved through a return to the case-by-case exercise of judicial discretion under the applicable standards such as those set forth in Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 43(a).