PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In-person court hearings and proceeding in the criminal division of the Court of Common Pleas at the Allegheny County Courthouse have been canceled until further notice.
It comes in the wake of three court facilities temporarily closing after a private attorney who tested positive for coronavirus appeared at the county courthouse, a district court office in North Versailles and a PFA office.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan reports that the attorney visited the courtroom of District Magistrate Roxanne Eichler in North Versailles in both the morning and afternoon sessions. The courtoom was later closed by President Judge Kim Clark.
Earlier in the week, the private attorney was also at the Allegheny County Courthouse, as well as at the Fifth Judicial District’s Protection From Abuse Department on Ross Street in downtown.
The third and fifth floors of the courthouse are closed, in addition to the magistrate’s office and the PFA office.
The attorney appeared before Judge Bruce Beemer on Monday.
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) July 24, 2020
Judge Clark ordered the closures late Thursday night, and the county Health Department is attempting to contact trace everyone who may have come in contact with the attorney.
Court administration says all of the employees have been isolated, quarantined and contact traced, and all other buildings are safe and following CDC guidelines.
On Friday afternoon, Judge Clark also ordered no in-person hearings or proceedings will occur. She ordered the hearings to be conducted through videoconferencing.
At a special hearing still scheduled to resume next week, attorney Milton Raiford will subpoena Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in his attempt to prove that the courthouse was unsafe. Instead of stops and starts, Raiford argues courts should be shut down entirely until the coronavirus crisis is over.
“It’s an airborne plague. So there is nothing they can do to ensure they’re not going to take this home to their families, to their loved one,” Raiford said.