Nebraska Federal Court Postpones Appearances Due to Virus


A flag is flown at half-staff outside the Roman L. Hruska Federal Courthouse, 111 S. 18th Plaza, in honor of U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Photo by Scott Stewart)
By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

The U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska is postponing in-court appearances until April 3 in response to the virus threat.

Chief U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard issued General Order 2020-05 on Monday afternoon. In it, he orders all civil and criminal matters scheduled before district, bankruptcy and magistrate judges to be continued pending the further order of the court.

“As this emergency situation has developed, it has become apparent that assessing that risk is difficult, given increasing evidence that asymptomatic carriers of the virus can transmit it,” Gerrard said in the order.

Gerrard noted that some people have appeared in court despite displaying symptoms associated with respiratory illness, and that has helped persuade the court that the risks outweigh the necessity of holding proceedings.

The general order says alternative means of appearance, such as video or telephone, can be used to conduct judicial business. Videoconferencing will be used for initial appearances on new charges unless otherwise ordered.

The court specifically found in the order that any delays in trials resulting from the order will outweigh defendants’ rights to a speedy trial. Case-by-case exceptions to continuances may be ordered at the court’s discretion.

The court had previously issued guidelines in two general orders that were issued Wednesday.

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