Rhode Island Courts Adapt to Pandemic Restrictions

May 21, 2020

The courts have been closed to all but emergency matters. Judges are conducting conferences by telephone and video. Lawyers, sheriffs, and judges are wearing face masks, and jury trials have been put on hold. 

Supreme Court Justice Paul A. Suttell on Friday ordered the courts to remain closed to routine business through June 1, with criminal and civil jury trials postponed through Aug. 1. It appears remote courtrooms are here to stay for a while in Rhode Island and beyond as researchers work to develop a vaccine or cure for COVID-19.

For about two weeks, Family Court has been conducting remote permanency reviews for children who are in the care of the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families. 

“As it evolves, I think we’ll all get better at it. I’m pretty happy with what we’ve accomplished so far,” said Tracy Hermann, supervising attorney of family preservation at Rhode Island Legal Services.

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