The Teton County Courthouse is locked until April 3 but still open for business by appointment.
A notice restricting courthouse access was signed Tuesday by Teton County Circuit Court Judge James Radda and Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day.
The order prompts those who need to do business inside the courthouse to call the appropriate office and handle it over the phone or schedule an appointment.
Wyoming’s judiciary system is working to adapt to social distancing guidelines and the need to conduct business online or over the phone. It’s challenging for a justice system that still heavily depends on in-person proceedings.
Wyoming has no online court records system. Therefore, anyone who needs to access public records must contact a clerk for assistance.
Some court hearings have been rescheduled, but many criminal hearings are continuing by video conference.
Judge Day and his team have set up arrangements for defendants, attorneys, other officers of the court and interested individuals to virtually attend hearings by request.
“As you know, Wyoming’s district courts are open to the public, inclusive of the media, for all proceedings that are not deemed confidential by law,” Day wrote in a letter to the News&Guide on Monday. “It is important that those proceedings remain open to the public and to you despite significant changes in court operations during the pandemic should you or anyone else want to attend.”
The News&Guide requested to cover three felony court hearings Monday and Tuesday and successfully did so by the court’s instructions.
To ensure the public knows which hearings are happening, the docket (typically posted only on paper in the District Court clerk’s office) is now being published online.
The docket is subject to change throughout the week, but this allows members of the public to know when a hearing is scheduled should they want to request to virtually attend. District Court wants two days’ notice.
Judge Radda issued an order Tuesday similarly allowing virtual public access to court hearings by request.
“In order to prioritize requests by the public to attend a hearing by videoconference the request should state in general terms the person’s interest in attending the proceeding,” it says.
Interested parties may be victims of a crime, a family member or friend of the defendant, someone who has information related to bond conditions, a victim advocate, a substance abuse professional, a person with special interest in the proceeding or “a person who has an interest as a member of the general public.”
Those requests to attend Circuit Court hearings should be emailed to email@example.com.
Requests to listen in on a District Court hearing, should be emailed to judicial assistant Molly Dearing at firstname.lastname@example.org.