JACKSON, Mich — The Jackson County Courthouse is once again open to the public.
The courthouse began phase 3 of its reopening plan today, meaning the public can now use walk-in services.
Being able to slowly return to normal is huge, said 12th District Court Deputy Court Administrator Geremy Burns.
"We understand the needs and the services that we provide," Burns said. "While we have adapted as best as we can with a virtual environment, there's a lot of our services that just need person-to-person standing in the building to be conducted, and this allows us to do that with just minimum traffic."
Jury trials are slated to start again on May 1. Both the 12th District Court and the 4th Circuit Court have gone months without them.
"The majority of our cases we've been able to handle throughout this time. I'm talking on behalf of the 12th District Court," said Burns. "Jury trials are the only cases where we really have not conducted at all during this time."
Courthouse security will determine how many people are allowed to come in. They also will conduct temperature checks and ask health screening questions.
Those wishing to enter the courthouse must bring their own masks and wear them in the building at all times. Officials are encouraging guests to bring a smartphone, check in from the car via their virtual waiting room and wait for a text letting them know when they're allowed to enter the building.
Burns anticipates extended or increased wait times and encourages people to use the courts' online services whenever possible.
"The court cases themselves, I don't know if there's a particular flood per se because we have been receiving those filings from the prosecutor's office and law enforcement," said Burns. "But, those services at the walk up, we've already seen a significant backlog this morning of people and waiting times for people waiting to get in because they've been waiting since October, some of them, to conduct their business."
But don't expect everything to be in person now though.
"It's really up to the parties and judge-specific most of the time," Burns said. "If there are a lot of pieces of evidence or exhibits that need to be entered into a particular hearing that's a little more difficult to do virtually. If it's a little bit more time consuming it's better to have it in person."
Walk-up services will be available from 9 a.m. to 11:30 am and noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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