Due to the recommendations of the Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Center for Disease Control regarding the COVID-19 pandemic that gatherings of people be limited in numbers, and for the protection of the parties, attorneys, witnesses, court staff, sheriff’s deputies and the public, Judge Rocky Coss has issued the following orders regarding attendance at all court proceedings in the general and domestic relations divisions of the Highland County Common Pleas Court:
1. In criminal cases, attendance at hearings shall be limited to the parties, their counsel, court staff, witnesses, victims, one representative of the Highland County Victim-Witness Office, deputies having custody of incarcerated defendants, one representative each for any media such as newspaper, radio or television, and one member of a defendant’s family.
2. In civil and domestic relations cases, attendance shall be limited to the parties and their counsel, witnesses and court staff.
3. Any person authorized to attend a hearing may have one person accompany them into the courthouse if needed to drive them to the hearing or to assist them physically. However, those persons may not be present in the courtroom and must wait in a waiting area on the second floor or outside the building.
4. Persons not included in paragraphs one or two of this order are required to practice “social distancing” and not to congregate closer than 6 feet to others while at the courthouse or in the courtroom. All persons participating in hearings shall practice “social distancing” as much as possible.
5. Attorneys may meet with witnesses and clients in private in conference rooms of the courthouse.
6. If anyone exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, they will be directed to leave the building by the court staff.
7. Any party or attorney who has symptoms of COVID-19 or is under a self-quarantine should contact the court to request a continuance of their hearing or to have it conducted by telephone if possible.
8. The court will sua sponte, or upon motion of a party, convert as many hearings as possible to video conference if available or to telephonic hearings as appropriate and permitted by law.
9. The court’s bailiffs and the Highland County sheriff shall enforce this order, which will continue until further order of the court.