With 100 masks in hand, staff of the Carroll County Office of the State’s Attorney are readying for courts to reopen as early as June.
Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland Mary Ellen Barbera in March ordered courts to close to the public through May 1, with some exceptions, such as domestic violence cases, bail reviews, and extreme risk protective orders.
Her most recent order, issued April 14, extends the deadline through June 5. Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo was already thinking about what steps need to be taken so staff can safely return to work.
“We’re planning so that we’re ready, knowing that could change again," he said in an interview.
A handful of employees have been working in the office at staggered times to do essential work since the chief judge issued her March order, according to DeLeonardo. Most staff are working remotely.
However, if courts reopen June 8, he will need staff to be in the office long before that date. Mailings need to be scanned and physical files have to be handled in person.
“We’re going to have to be in there prior to that for several weeks," DeLeonardo said. “We’re going to have a lot of cases in June."
Many cases have been put on hold, he said, and attorneys will have to confer with victims and defense counsel as they determine when cases will be addressed.
“There’s definitely a lot of work to do," DeLeonardo said.
A donation of masks from English American Tailoring in Westminster will assist in preparing for that day of reopening. Each staff member in the Office of the State’s Attorney will get two masks; one to wear and one to wash.
Mark Falcone, CEO of English American Tailoring, said the skeleton crew staffing the Westminster office has been sewing 7,000 masks a day out of shirt material and donating them to customers, employees, and those in public service, such as Westminster Police Department and Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. He said it’s a company-wide initiative.
“We feel it’s our social responsibility to help with this during the pandemic," Falcone said.
In addition to wearing mask staff in the state’s attorney’s office may be working on staggered days so everyone isn’t working in the office at once, DeLeonardo said, and he intends to allow people who would be considered high-risk to work remotely for longer.
DeLeonardo feels a responsibility to take precautions not only to protect staff, but the public, too.