Chief Justice Closes Courts to Public
All state courthouses will be closed to the public except for official court business, starting March 23 to April 30.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and the Judiciary is taking appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our community,” Chief Mark E. Justice Recktenwald said. “We join Hawai‘i’s leaders in doing everything possible to slow the spread of this virus.”
Those with official court business include:
Parties, attorneys, witnesses, domestic violence advocates, guardians ad litem, interpreters, or any other person who must appear in-person as authorized by previous orders
Individuals who need to file documents with the court and who are unable to electronically file
Individuals who request to watch a specific public proceeding
The order states that any person entering judiciary facilities must minimize their time within the facility to the extent reasonably possible. This means going directly to areas of the facility in which their presence is required and leaving immediately after their business is complete. Additionally, anyone in judiciary facilities must maintain six feet between themselves and any other person to the extent feasible, including within courtrooms.
The chief judges of each circuit may issue orders and adjust court operations as necessary to minimize the number of people entering judiciary facilities, including establishing secure drop-boxes outside of courthouses for document filing to replace current in-person filing procedures.
“Our local, state, and federal officials have emphasized that social distancing is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community and flattening the curve,” said Deputy Chief Judge Melanie May. “The Judiciary’s collective efforts to further reduce court operations not only promotes social distancing within court facilities, but also in the larger community by allowing people to remain at home rather than making their way to the courthouse steps.”
The Judiciary has also taken action to minimize the number of in-person court proceedings. On Monday, March 16, Recktenwald issued an order limiting all in-person appearances for civil, family, and, to the extent possible, criminal dockets, except for urgent and time sensitive matters.
The order also prohibits individuals from entering judiciary facilities if they have a fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms; traveled outside Hawaii in the past 14 days; or have had close prolonged contact with a person who has or is suspected to have COVID-19.
On Friday, Recktenwald issued an order extending appellate deadlines that expire between March 20 and April 3, 2020 to April 6.
Copies of all orders are available on the Judiciary’s COVID-19 Information page.