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Waterford juvenile court reopens

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The Waterford court for juvenile matters reopened for staff Monday as the Judicial Branch continues to expand operations that had been consolidated to other courthouses or postponed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Juvenile courts in New Haven and Willimantic also reopened as well as the Geographical Area 23 courthouse in New Haven.

The state Judicial Branch said Monday that officials would be deciding who will be presiding at the Waterford juvenile court, since both of the judges who have handled cases there for several years, John C. Driscoll and Michael A. Mack, are judge trial referees who aren't currently working. The branch has temporarily suspended employment of its 121 senior judges and judge trial referees due to budgetary concerns and the coronavirus pandemic.

In New London County, the only courthouse that remains closed is the Geographical Area 10 building at 112 Broad St. in New London. The Judicial Branch courthouse on Huntington Street in New London and the Geographical Area 21 courthouse in Norwich are open for limited business.

In addition to the priority matters that have been heard throughout the pandemic, the branch has equipped staff with the capability of conducting business remotely in civil, criminal, family and juvenile cases, and has connected virtually with state prisons to hear some matters, including bond arguments and sentencing hearings.  

Starting last month, the geographical area courts, which handle lower-level criminal matters, began conducting a "25 at 2" docket, in which defendants with the oldest cases on the docket are called into court. The cases on the docket at G.A. 10 are being heard by criminal judges at the Judicial Branch courthouse.

Pursuant to Gov. Ned Lamont's Aug. 20 executive order, a moratorium on residential evictions has been extended to Oct. 1. The Judicial Branch said housing mediators will soon begin meeting with parties in commercial eviction cases via remote technology to try to work out agreements.  The mediators will also begin to meet with parties in residential eviction cases after the moratorium expires on Oct. 1.

The Judicial Branch said it is developing strategies to safely resume jury trials, which require larger numbers of people to convene in courtrooms.

Everyone entering a courthouse is required to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose. Judicial Marshals are ensuring that social distance is maintained within courthouses and may limit the number of people allowed into a courthouse, courtroom, office, lobby or corridor.

k.florin@theday.com

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