Multnomah County Justice Center
Multnomah County Justice Center DOUG BROWN

The Multnomah County court system is joining the growing number of local institutions that are changing protocol because of COVID-19.

In a press release sent Thursday afternoon, the Multnomah County Circuit Court announced that it is taking steps to limit the number of people at the courthouse, and protect people who are at risk of developing complications from the coronavirus. Those measures include allowing deferrals for people called for jury duty; increasing cleaning services in spots that see high traffic; and delaying non-essential court dates.

From the press release:

“We are postponing many trials and other court proceedings. We are also evaluating all of the court’s dockets in light of public safety concerns and determining which essential matters can be safely held at court facilities with appropriate social distancing."

The court will keep its online docket updated with schedule changes. The new jury rules mirror those put in place by the Oregon Judicial Department on Wednesday, which call for deferrals for anyone in at risk of developing complications or showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The decision to scale-back court proceedings comes the day after Governor Kate Brown placed a ban on all public gatherings larger than 250 people, and urged Oregonians to practice social distancing. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 24 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, though public health officials believe the actual number of cases is somewhere between 150 and 250.

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