Shelby County Courthouse limits in-person access
By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer
COLUMBIANA — As part of the community-wide effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, public access to the Shelby County Courthouse is being limited to only emergency hearings and matters that cannot be handled electronically or by mail.
Shelby County Probate Judge Allison Boyd released new procedures Monday, March 16 suspending all non-emergency hearings and proceedings until further notice.
“To continue to serve the citizens of Shelby County while limiting exposure and spread of COVID-19 both to citizens and our office staff, public access to the Shelby County Courthouse is being limited to those appearing before the court for an emergency hearing allowed by the Order of the Alabama Supreme Court and those with matters that cannot be handled electronically or by mail,” Boyd said.
The new restrictions follow a March 15 order by the state Supreme Court to suspend all in-person court proceedings for 30 days. Any disputes about out-of-court activity should be directed to the court that is handling the pending case, the order also indicates.
The 18th Judicial Circuit Court of Shelby County also acknowledged the suspension of “all in-person proceedings in the courts of this state through April 16, 2020,” stated an order by Shelby County Circuit Judge Bill Bostick.
The following are guidelines for specific needs released by the Shelby County Probate Office and the 18th Judicial Circuit, respectively:
Shelby County Probate Office guidelines
Only petitions for involuntary commitments and emergency guardianship will be accepted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org; any such matters will be scheduled for hearings, according to the new guidelines. Any other judicial filings should be mailed to: Judge of Probate, P.O. Box 825, Columbiana, AL 35051.
Probate records may be accessed online at Probaterecords.shelbyal.com/, and anyone searching for a title prior to 1972 should contact the Shelby County Probate Office at 205-669-3720 for assistance.
Documents submitted for recording will only be accepted via U.S. mail or electronically via one of three approved vendors: Simplifile.com, Erecording.com or GOePN.com. Corporations are filed through the Secretary of State’s Office, which may be contacted at 334-242-5324.
Most records may be filed electronically, with the exceptions of LLCs, nonprofit corporations, notaries, marriage certificates and maps. Anyone with questions should contact the probate office at 205-669-3720.
18th Judicial Circuit of Shelby County guidelines
The following exceptions were provided to the suspension of in-person court proceedings:
- Proceedings necessary to protect constitutional rights of criminal defendants , including bond- related matters and plea agreements for incarcerated individuals
- Civil and criminal jury trials that are in progress as of March 13 , 2020
- Proceedings related to protection from abuse
- Proceedings related to emergency child custody and protection orders
- Department of Human Resources emergency matters related to child protection
- Proceedings related to petitions for temporary injunctive relief
- Proceedings related to emergency mental health orders
- Proceedings related to emergency protection of elderly or vulnerable persons
- Proceedings directly related to the COVID- 19 public health emergency
- Any emergent proceeding as needed by law enforcement
- Termination of parental rights proceedings
- Proceedings to protect the constitutional rights of children who are alleged to be a delinquent child, dependent child or a child-in-need-of-supervision, specifically 72-hour detention and shelter care hearings
- Other exceptions as approved by the Chief Justice
The order also stated, among other things:
- Those not represented by an attorney who wish to obtain information about their case should contact the Shelby County Circuit Clerk’s Office at 205-669-3760
- Anyone with a pending criminal or traffic case not in custody who received an order to appear issued prior to Saturday, March 14 should consult their attorney or the circuit clerk at 205-669-3760
- Those with outstanding criminal or traffic payments should mail a cashier’s check or money order to: Mary H. Harris, Circuit Clerk, P.O. Box 1810, Columbiana, AL 35051
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