Canadian County judges continue to work during pandemic

Jury trials may not resume until August or September

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Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse conducts a bail hearing by video for an inmate at the Canadian County Jail. Jail count was 134 inmates on Monday, April 27. (Photo provided)

EL RENO – Although the Canadian County Courthouse remains closed to the public due to COVID-19, the judges and their staff continue to work at the courthouse on rotating shifts or work from home.

“One district judge and one special judge along with their bailiffs and a court reporter are always available and working in the courthouse,” District Judges Jack McCurdy and Paul Hesse announced in a joint statement.

Most non-emergency matters have been continued pursuant to orders by Gov. Stitt and the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

However, Canadian County judges are hearing emergency matters including domestic cases, guardianships, and juvenile matters.

The judges are also continuing to conduct bail hearings and other matters involving criminal defendants.

In addition, Canadian County judges have been hearing non-emergency matters by conference call, video, and other platforms.

Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse

“We started conducting some hearings by video after the courthouse was closed,” Judge Hesse said. “This has allowed us to see inmates quickly after arrest.

“Also, it minimizes the movement of inmates in and out of the jail, thereby reducing the risk of exposure of COVID-19 to inmates and jail and courthouse staff.”

Inmate count was 134 on Monday, April 27 at the Canadian County Jail.

JURY TERMS CANCELED THROUGH MAY

Canadian County judges also have been reviewing and approving orders by mail and email and filing those orders with the Court Clerk’s Office, which also remains open but closed to public access.

All jury terms have been canceled in Canadian County at least through the end of May. It is likely that jury trials may not resume until August or September.

The Canadian County Commissioners will determine when the courthouse will reopen to the public.

When the courthouse reopens, measures will be implemented to keep litigants, attorneys, and court staff as safe as possible.

It is common for dockets, especially criminal dockets, which are held multiple times a week, to have over 100 cases in a day.

Judge Hesse encourages the public to visit the court system’s website at http://www.OSCN.net if someone needs to obtain information about a case.

This website allows users to look up most cases that are filed in Canadian County to see the status of the case and when events are scheduled.

Since most cases scheduled during the courthouse closure have been continued, this is a great resource for keeping informed of court action.