Local courts responding to COVID-19


Editor:

Over the past week, significant developments have occurred, and the developments are rapidly changing. As your elected Probate and Juvenile Judge, I am taking steps to help my staff, attorneys and the general public during these challenging times. The judge and magistrate of the Court of Common Pleas of Preble County, Probate and Juvenile Divisions, are continuing to hear limited cases and issue decisions without interruption despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus. We are open for business but have taken steps to lessen some of the risks posed by normal courthouse activities.

We have encouraged staff members and courthouse visitors to practice social distancing and good personal hygiene. Please understand that this is very important although we realize it can be awkward. It is a basic and reasonable step necessary to keep all of us healthy. Those entering the courthouse will be subject to a brief, non-invasive health screening. We ask that all wash their hands thoroughly before entering the courtrooms or court offices.

Some court business can be conducted online or by telephone. Status conferences, pre-trials and certain hearings may be conducted by teleconference or videoconference, depending on the case. We are contacting the parties in advance for any hearings that we hope to conduct by teleconference or videoconference rather than in person but if you have not heard from us, please contact us before you come in. Some court business is still being conducted in person and some cases may need to be continued. Again, please contact the court if you have questions about an individual case. Applications for marriage licenses at the Probate Court must be handled in person and should there come a time when the courthouse has limited access, we will make every effort to schedule appointments for some services.

For all “in person” hearings, the court shall be notified prior to the scheduled hearing if any of the following apply to any party, attorney or witness: has traveled outside of the United States to a country with travel restrictions designated as Level 2 or higher and returned to the United States within the 21 days prior to the scheduled hearing; has been exposed to the COVID-19 Virus or anyone infected with the Covid-19 Virus within the 21 days prior to the scheduled hearing; has been quarantined, isolated or otherwise restricted by any health professional; or is showing any signs of sickness. These hearings will be rescheduled by the court for good cause.

Only necessary personnel will be permitted into hearings. No other observers will be permitted.

Documents can be faxed, emailed or mailed to our clerks. Our court administrator or clerks can help you with this process if you have questions.

This matter is changing and evolving rapidly and we ask for your flexibility and patience as we adjust and cope as best we can. As we continue to serve the public, we remain focused on doing so in a way that promotes public health and safety. Thank you and be safe.

Judge Jenifer K. Overmyer

Preble County Probate/Juvenile Courts