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Courts and Legal Services Respond to COVID-19

On April 17, 2020 the Supreme Court of Missouri issued a new statewide Order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This newest Order extends the suspension of all in-person court proceedings throughout Missouri until May 15, 2020. As before, this Order may be extended should circumstances warrant. You can read the newest Order on the Missouri Courts website.

All of the information posted below is still relevant and accurate.

On Sunday, March 21, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an Order to the courts in Missouri to announce the following:

  • A suspension of all in-person court proceedings throughout Missouri until April 17, 2020 (this may be extended if circumstances warrant).
  • Judges may use their discretion in regards to any proceedings that can be conducted via tele/video conference in place of in-person appearances.
  • Exceptions to the suspension of in-person proceedings include, but are not limited to: Order of Protection hearings; emergency child custody orders; and abuse, neglect and termination of parental rights. These hearings may be held in person if no other option is suitable or available, but judges are encouraged to utilize all available technologies and avoid in-person hearings as much as possible.

Additional information about the Order can be found on the Missouri Courts website.

What this means for local courts:

Each court—and each judge within each court—has discretion in how they implement the order of the Supreme Court of Missouri.

Some courts will have different hours/processes for certain procedures such as petitioning for Orders of Protection. When that is the case, courts are supposed to post any change of operations at the courthouses, online, and on the Missouri Court's website.

Despite uncertainty during this public health crisis, the courts of Missouri are constitutionally required to provide emergency and necessary services. While the processes might look different at the moment, survivors will still be able to access necessary services, such as Ex Parte Orders of Protection.

All courts currently have a list of certain persons who are not allowed to be on court premises. If this applies to someone you are working with it does not mean they cannot access necessary services. Call your local Circuit Clerk to learn about the court's current practices. People who cannot currently enter the premises of a courthouse or offices include, but aren't limited to:

  • Persons who have traveled to a foreign country in the past 14 days or who have had close contact with someone who has traveled to a foreign country in the past 14 days. At this time, a few courts are also including certain interstate travel, such as someone who has been to California, New York, Colorado, Washington state, or Illinois. This is something to check with your local court. 
  • Persons who have been requested to self-quarantine by a medical professional.
  • Persons who are diagnosed with, or had contact with someone diagnosed with, COVID-19.
  • Persons who have unexplained fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The Missouri Court's website has a compilation of different area courts' notices and orders, as well as contact information for local Circuit Clerk’s offices.

 How Legal Services and Legal Aid are responding to the COVID-19 Crisis: 

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM)

A toll-free number is open for people needing assistance from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, 800-444-0514.

Online application for services is available 24/7 on the LSEM website.

LSEM is unable to accept walk-in requests at this time due to safety concerns.

LSEM is posting information about COVID-19 and resources on their website.

Legal Aid of Western Missouri

Staff are working remotely; contact information can be found on their website.

Updates about information, resources, and how LAWMO is handling the COVID-19 crisis can also be found on their website.

Legal Services of Southern Missouri

LSSM is accepting applications by phone or online only. Application information can be found on their website.

Mid-Missouri Legal Services

Applicants have to complete an application by phone. The information for this process can be found on their website.

MMLS has information and resources regarding COVID-19 on their website.

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