Beaver County officials today issued an order limiting who can enter the courthouse and county buildings and listing which offices, services and court proceedings will be accessible starting tomorrow until at least March 31.
The county commissioners and county president judge said the order is an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus and limit numbers of people congregating at any one time.
Sheriff’s deputies will screen everyone who tries to enter any county facility and bar those who don’t qualify.
Until further notice, the public will no longer have physical access to the following offices and departments: planning/redevelopment; recreation/tourism; assessment/tax claim; children and youth services; coroner’s office; bureau of elections; waste management; treasurer’s office; controller’s office; community development; behavioral health; department of public works; district attorney’s office; office on aging; Beaver County Jail; and the commissioners’ office.
Although not completely closed to the public, the following offices are also substantially restricting access and services: central services; register of wills; clerk of clerks; law library; public defender; recorder of deeds (by appointment); prothonotary’s office; sheriff’s office (gun permits made available only by appointment); domestic relations; adult probation; juvenile services; veteran’s affairs (DAV transportation still available); and county court of common pleas.
Any member of the public having business in any of these limited offices should contact that office prior to arriving at the courthouse or other county office.
County Treasurer Sandie Egley said her office will be open during business hours, but she’s “highly encouraging” taxpayers to mail their 2020 county tax payments rather than bringing them in.
The mailing address is 810 Third St., Beaver, Pa., 15009, and residents should include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for their receipt. Egley also listed online services available, and directed people to call her office with questions at (724) 770-4540.
County President Judge Richard Mancini issued a separate administrative order today effective through March 27 regarding court proceedings.
According to his order, the following will be cancelled and rescheduled: summary appeal hearings; custody seminars; arbitrations; and jury trials currently scheduled for April 2.
Access to judicial facilities in the county will be granted only to: court and county employees, officials and those with badge keycard credentials; attorneys, litigants, witnesses, victims and participants in judicial proceedings before the court of common pleas or magisterial district court; individuals with bona fide business need before a court or court-related office; attorneys, litigants or their representatives filing papers or pleadings, or making monetary payments with the offices of the clerk of courts, the domestic relations section, prothonotary or register of wills; attorneys or litigants using the county law library; and members of the media.
Other changed court-related guidelines are as follows:
Criminal ARD pleas and sentencing hearings:
The court administrator is limiting the number of scheduled cases. At the end of a hearing, defendants will be sent to the jurors lounge and remain there until being summoned to the Adult Probation Office. The court will immediately fax sentencing orders to the APO.
Criminal status conferences:
Any criminal defendant represented by counsel is not required to attend the status conference. Counsel must have a line of communication open to defendants. Pro se defendants are required to appear.
Also, unless a waiver of arraignment is filed, which is strongly encouraged, the defendant is required to appear for arraignment.
Criminal preliminary hearings:
All criminal preliminary hearings scheduled for 8:30 a.m. that are not disposed of by 10 a.m. will be automatically continued to a scheduled afternoon hearing date.
Preliminary hearing dates for defendants in jail will be given priority and will not be automatically continued. Those hearings will be done by video from the jail. Defense counsel should use the video link from the Public Defender’s Office to communicate with jailed defenders.
Counsel may complete appropriate paperwork to be signed by a magistrate at the end of the day for cases in which there is no dissent, such as with waivers, continuances or expedited pleas.
The county district attorney and the public defender are expected to be in the building and available to aid in expediting the process.
Civil argument court:
Arguments will take place by voice telephone communications either in court or in chambers at the presiding judge’s discretion.
Civil case management/pre-trial conference:
The number of people required to appear will be limited, and conferences when at all possible, will be conducted by telephone conferencing in court or in chambers.
The number of people permitted to appear, in addition