By: Patti Weaver

Due to the growing threat of coronavirus, all district courthouses in Oklahoma’s 77 counties have been closed to the public except for emergencies, by a joint order of the state Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals issued on Friday.


“To the extent that emergency dockets are being held, no more than 10 persons including the judge and court personnel shall be in a courtroom at one time,” the order said.


“Judges and other courthouse personnel shall use all available means to ensure the health of all participants in any court proceeding,” the order said.


“If judges continue to hold hearings, all of the mandated COVID-19 precautions issued by the CDC and all state and local governments shall be followed,” the order said.


Judges must continue to use remote participation as much as possible by such procedures as telephone conferencing or video conferencing.


Except for emergencies including protective orders, court clerks and judges must use email, fax and drop boxes for acceptance of written materials.


All jury terms through May 15 have been cancelled in all district courts in Oklahoma; no additional jurors can be summoned without approval of the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.


All jury trials in civil, criminal and juvenile cases must be rescheduled to the next available dockets; if necessary, additional jury terms may be ordered in July, August, or later in the year, under the emergency order.


All deadlines and procedures in any civil, juvenile or criminal case have been suspended through May 15; in any civil case, the statute of limitations has been extended through May 15.


The emergency order signed Friday by State Supreme Court Justice Noma D. Gurich and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge David B. Lewis “joins the governor in addressing the ever-changing situation in the district courts in all 77 counties, as well as the appellate courts in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties.”