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Clark County halts most in-person court hearings

Clark County District Court has suspended jury trials until at least Jan. 11 and halted most in-person criminal and civil hearings, according to an administrative order announced Tuesday.

The order comes in the wake of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s recent stay-at-home directive for Nevada residents and the restrictions he announced Sunday on businesses and public and private gatherings. Sisolak’s three-week “statewide pause” to stop the spread of the coronavirus started Tuesday.

According to the administrative order, lawyers and defendants are required to attend court through videoconferences starting on Wednesday, with the exception of in-custody defendants appearing in the lower-level arraignment courtroom or in cases for which a judge or hearing master has required a personal appearance.

Lawyers representing indigent clients are urged to provide assistance to clients who do not have the independent ability to appear by alternative means.

As part of the directive, all filings with the District Court clerk’s offices at both the Regional Justice Center and Family Court building must be completed electronically or by mail.

All district judges and employees are required to wear face coverings at all times while in the workplace, except while eating or drinking during breaks. This includes all areas of court facilities, including parking lots.

Chief District Judge Linda Bell on Nov. 12 halted felony jury trials for the second time this year.

Jury trials restarted in late September after two third-floor courtrooms were renovated to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures. Those include socially distanced jury seating and plexiglass partitions with a nearby rapid-testing center staffed by University Medical Center.

Officials said about $250,000 in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act went into remodeling the third floor.

Earlier this year, much of the 17-story building also was equipped with pandemic signage, partitions and crowd-control stanchions to keep people distanced, while elevators have been limited to no more than four people.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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