Fairbanks courts postpone hearings, restrict access to court during COVID-19 outbreak

The Alaska Court System has canceled all non-priority hearings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (John Dougherty/KTVF)

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Alaska Supreme Court issued two emergency orders dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. The orders relaxed and suspended certain rules to help keep court system employees and the public safe.

Due to the orders, Michael MacDonald, Presiding Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, sent out a letter outlining changes to the court in Fairbanks.

The biggest change is the suspension of nearly all court proceedings.

Beginning on Monday March 23 and continuing through at least April 3, all superior and district court proceedings will be suspended except priority hearings.

The priority hearings are listed as:

-Arraignments
-Felony first appearances
-Bail hearings
-Change of plea and sentencing hearings
-Adjudication and disposition hearings on petitions to revoke probation
-Habeas corpus applications
-CINA temporary custody and permanency hearings
-CINA hearings for review of secure residential psychiatric placement
-Mental health evaluation, involuntary commitment, and psychotropic medication proceedings
-Domestic violence proceedings
-Alcohol and drug commitment proceedings
-Quarantine and isolation proceedings
-Juvenile delinquency arraignment and detention hearings
-Search warrant and arrest warrant proceedings
-Temporary guardianship and conservatorship proceedings

All court priority hearings will be conducted telephonically and the courtrooms will generally be closed according to the letter.

These changes come after the court already postponed all new jury trials temporarily.

Any visitor to the court will be screened by security to make sure they aren’t sick and haven’t traveled in the last 14 days.

The court is asking anyone who thinks they need to come to the courthouse to call ahead and let them know your situation so they can help you figure out the next steps.

For more information on the changes please visit the Alaska Court System webpage.

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