Complying with the limitations on the number of people allowed to gather in public places, Box Butte County Court and District Court in Box Butte, Dawes, Sheridan, Sioux and Grant Counties have taken steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

An order issued by District Judge Travis O’Gorman continued all criminal and civil jury trials for 60 days, with civil jury trials continued to a further date after consulting with counsel.

“With regard to criminal jury trials, the defendants shall be asked to waive their constitutional right to a speedy trial,” the order stated. “In the event such right is waived, the jury trial will be continued until further order of the Court. In the event such right is not waived, the Court shall conduct a hearing, to be attended by essential persons only, for the purpose of determining if the jury trial should be continued for good cause (…).”

In the order, bench trials are set to continue as scheduled. Arraignments will be performed in written form, allowing a written plea of not guilty. After the arraignment, a status conference will be set in two months, which the defendant may participate in person or by phone.

The order states that all other matters are to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Judge O’Gorman closed the order by asking for “cooperation and patience as we all work together to get through this difficult time.”

Box Butte County Court Judge Paul Wess issued an order similar to Judge O’Gorman’s, setting guidelines for the county court to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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