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Temperatures to be taken at Carroll County Circuit Court after reopening

Part of Carroll County Administrative Judge Fred Hecker’s plan to reopen courts to the public includes checking everyone’s temperature upon entry.

The Board of County Commissioners on approved Hecker’s request for three temperature scanners and three laptops during its most recent meeting, in anticipation of courts opening to the public June 8. The no-contact Seek Scan Temperature Readers will be placed at the entrances to the courthouse annex and the historic courthouse, he said, and will be used for both staff and visitors.

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When someone enters the courthouse they will stand on a marked spot to have their temperature scanned, then the result will be transmitted to a laptop that shows a red or green box to indicate whether the person has a high temperature. Hecker said the process takes a few seconds.

“We’re going to have more and more people entering the courthouse, and one of the ways in which we can try to ensure the safety of the public and our staff here is to make sure that no one’s coming in with a fever,” Hecker said.

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In order to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Mary Ellen Barbera, chief judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, 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. On April 14, she extended the policy through June 5.

The scanners and laptops will cost about $11,000. Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said during the Thursday, May 14 meeting that at that price it would be worthwhile for county government to look into buying scanners for other government buildings as well. Roberta Windham, county administrator, said staff could look into it.

The District Court of Maryland will also order no-contact thermometers, to be issued to the bailiffs, at places where the district court is responsible for door security, including Carroll County District Court, according to Nadine Maeser, spokesperson for the courts. On May 15, she said it was too early to say what policies and procedures will be implemented for their use.

What courts will look like when they do reopen has yet to be finalized, Hecker said.

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Hecker is developing a strategic plan for Carroll County Circuit Court, and he anticipates the state’s chief judge will issue minimum requirements in the coming weeks. He predicts small dockets in the early weeks, screening people as they enter the courthouse, heightened sanitation and allowing staff to work remotely when possible.

Courts are not planned to reopen to their full extent June 8. Hecker said jury trials will be on hold.

Hecker also announced good news for couples hoping to wed during the state of emergency put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday issued an executive order to suspend the requirement that people appear in person before a circuit court clerk to apply for a marriage license.

The order allows for a marriage license application to be mailed or emailed, and for oaths to be taken via video conference. An official may perform a marriage ceremony for a couple while not in the same physical location as them, the order states.

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