Massachusetts courts to hold video hearings amid coronavirus outbreak


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The effects of the COVID-19 outbreak are being felt everywhere, including the judicial system. 

Although many businesses in Massachusetts are now closed to fight the coronavirus, courthouses are still open. However, they are only operating on an emergency-only basis. 

The courts are closed to the public but are staffed to handle emergency matters such as restraining orders or juvenile protection cases. According to the state’s supreme judicial court, emergency cases will be handled by phone or video conference when possible. 

“They can do all that as much as possible online, do a video chat or whatever they have to,” said Jeff Williams from Agawam. “If it’s non-essential…not a matter of life or death, do not go out.” 

In western Massachusetts, Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan and his staff have taken proactive measures to reduce the risk faced by pretrial detainees held in local correctional facilities.   

The Northwestern DA’s Office has started a review of all pending cases with the goal of identifying individuals whose release would not endanger the lives and safety of the general public or pose a significant flight risk.   

The Northwestern DA’s office sent 22News a statement that reads in part, “We have been working with the trial court to continue criminal arraignments and pre-trails to later dates and only ask for bail when absolutely necessary.” 

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