STAUNTON – Augusta County Clerk of Circuit Court R. Steven Landes today announced that Chief Judge W. Chapman Goodwin, 25th Circuit, has issued a Memorandum outlining safety protocols for court cases resuming Monday, May 18. These will be in addition to Judge Goodwin’s order issued on March 13, limiting access to the Augusta County Courthouse, which is still in effect due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The Augusta County Circuit Court and the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office want to do everything we can to protect the public, professionals and staff who need to appear for court cases,” Landes said. “For those who do not need to enter the courthouse we continue to encourage citizens to go online to access services where possible or contact the Clerk’s Office by telephone.”
The safety protocols include limiting the number of persons in the courtrooms at one time to only attorneys, necessary witnesses, interpreters, court personnel, court reporters, bailiffs, others deemed necessary by the court, and members of the media. Because of space limitations, not all witnesses may be allowed in the courthouse, but may be contacted by their attorney when to appear.
Augusta County Sheriff’s Deputies will continue to screen visitors and any individual who is displaying signs of illness, including but not limited to fever, cough, or shortness of breath or currently feeling ill; who has visited China, Iran, South Korea, any European countries, or any other high risk countries; who has traveled domestically within the United States where COVID-19 has had widespread transmission; who has been asked to quarantine or isolate by any doctor or hospital; who has been diagnosed with or has been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19; or has resided with or been in close contact with any person in any of the above categories will not be allowed to enter the courthouse. Individuals who were to have appeared in court, but are not allowed to enter the courthouse, will be asked their name and current address so a summons may be served with a new hearing date and time.
In addition, all individuals entering the courthouse will be strongly encouraged to wear masks or other coverings over their nose and mouth for their protection, and for the protection of others in the courthouse. The courtrooms will be cleaned and sanitized at the beginning of each day, and again at 12 noon each day to further protect the public and staff. When the public and staff enter the courthouse, their temperature will also be taken by a sheriff’s deputy.
The public will continue to be required to make an appointment to access services provided by the Clerk of Circuit Court’s Office. For those needing assistance with civil filings, including complaints, petitions, divorces, name changes, or restoration of firearms, and applying for Concealed Handgun Permits for the first time, an appointment needs to be made by calling the Clerk’s Office.
In addition, those applying for marriage licenses, Notary qualifications, administration of oaths, recordation of military discharge papers, and appointment of ministers and others to perform marriage ceremonies continue to need to make an appointment to enter the courthouse. Those needing assistance with probate and estate matters will continue to make appointments, as has been the practice in the past. Only those individuals appearing in their normal professional capacity who require access to the Clerk’s Office will be allowed to enter without an appointment. This would include professionals recording deeds, and attorneys representing clients with civil or criminal matters or filings.
More information about the online services available for the public at the Augusta County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office can be found online at https://www.co.augusta.va.us/government/circuit-court-clerk. The Clerk serves as the recorder of deeds, probate judge, issues marriage licenses and is the official court administrator for all civil and criminal cases. The Clerk creates and maintains all court files and records, prepares court orders and jury lists, contacts jurors and issues summons and court processes.