Dalton’s Municipal Court will hold in-person proceedings on Wednesday at City Hall for the first time since the declaration of a statewide judicial emergency related to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Georgia’s Supreme Court issued a second order extending the judicial state of emergency on May 11 that allows municipal courts to begin holding court sessions provided that the courts develop comprehensive written procedures to protect the health of all involved during the pandemic. On Monday, Dalton Municipal Court Judge Robert Cowan signed an order mandating the following guidelines for court proceedings:
• Other than court personnel, there will be a limit of 20 people admitted to the courtroom at any one time.
• Only defendants and/or their attorneys should attend hearings, and additional people (family, children, etc.) will not be admitted.
• Defendants with childcare or other family issues that cannot be avoided at the time of their arraignment or hearing should contact the court to make other arrangements.
• Defendants under 21 years old may have one parent or guardian attend with them.
• Everyone in attendance will be required to wear a face mask while in the courtroom.
• Each person entering the court should bring their own face mask.
• The court will have some face masks to provide on a limited basis.
• Court will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m.
• Because the number of people allowed in the courtroom is limited to 20, some defendants may be asked to return to their vehicle and wait to be called.
• Defendants may be provided an estimated time when their case will be called.
• Before entering the building, each individual will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
• Each individual’s temperature will be taken with a touchless thermometer.
• Each individual will be asked a series of questions to screen for the virus.
— Have you traveled to any high-risk areas or outside of the state of Georgia in the last 14 days?
– Have you had contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
– Have you experienced a fever above 100 degrees in the last 14 days?
– Have you experienced difficulty breathing or a persistent cough in the past 14 days?
If the answer to any screening question is “yes,” the defendant’s court date will be rescheduled.
• Due to the limits on in-person attendance, court proceedings will be live-streamed on the city of Dalton’s YouTube channel at https://tinyurl.com/y7h4oftx.
Wednesday’s court session is for defendants who have retained attorneys and who have already been contacted by the court with an appointment. Any defendants who are unsure of when their court date has been rescheduled to can contact Municipal Court at (706) 278-1913, ext. 101, during normal business hours.