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For the first time in Saline County history, the county court system held a hearing by teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After Saline County Judge Jeff Arey limited access to the county court house and other offices in order to try and stem the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus, officials have had to turn to new ways of completing county business.

According to a press release from Arey, the county held its first ever teleconference circuit court hearing on March 27.

“All of the Circuit and District judges and their staffs have been working together with the prosecutors, public defenders, private attorneys, the circuit and county clerks and many others to carry out the business of justice while ensuring the health and welfare of the public,” the press release said.

Judge Robert Herzfeld presided over three hearings from this home “court” via the Zoom teleconference application. The attorneys, court reporter and all parties involved also participated from either their homes or offices through the app while the 4th Division courtroom remained empty.

Friday’s hearings are just the first of many circuit court hearings and trials that will be handled this way way in the coming weeks in light of Arey extending the limited access period through April 20.

The county will be using a number of innovative technologies and procedures while trying to conduct as much business from home as possible while also ensuring that all constitutional protections and the rule of law is preserved.

Emergency cases, with some limited exceptions will continue to be held through the Zoom app. Non-emergency cases are generally being scheduled for the summer. The judges are currently developing a number of procedures surrounding this history making event and more announcements are expected later this week.

All District Court proceedings will be held in the respective Divisions of District Court, either the Benton District Court, which can be reached at 501-303-5670, or the Bryant District Court, which may be reached by calling 501-943-0440.

Access to court facilities are limited to those with essential business. Those entering the courthouse will be required to provide basic contact information to comply with COVID-19 tracking protocols.

For residents with questions regarding court proceedings, county offices may be reached by phone at the following numbers:

Circuit Clerk - 501-303-5615

Circuit Court - Division 1     - 501-303-5635

Circuit Court - Division 2     - 501-303-5664

Circuit Court - Division 3     - 501-303-5628

Circuit Court - Division 4     - 501-303-1584

More information may be found by visiting www.salinecounty.org.

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