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Face coverings now required at Black Hills courts
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Face coverings now required at Black Hills courts

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Signs and legal orders warn people who are sick, who may have been exposed to COVID-19, or who are at high-risk of contracting the virus not to enter the Pennington County Courthouse.  

Visitors to the Pennington County and other Black Hills-area courts must wear face coverings beginning on Tuesday.

All members of the public must wear a mask, scarf, bandana or other cloth item that covers their nose and mouth at the Pennington, Custer, Fall River and Oglala Lakota county courthouses, presiding judge Craig Pfeifle wrote in an April 6 order.

Visitors and people scheduled to appear for a court hearing should not enter the court if they have COVID-19 or possible exposure, fever, cough, weak immune system, diabetes, or heart or lung disease. Neither should pregnant people.

To reschedule court appearances, call the clerk of courts office:

  • Pennington County 605-394-2570
  • Custer County: 605-673-4816
  • Fall River and Oglala Lakota counties: 605-745-5131

People who aren’t scheduled to appear in court but need to take care of legal matters should call or email the court, and use online forms available at ujs.sd.gov/Seventh_Circuit. The forms include applications for divorce, temporary protection orders and small claims filings.

People called for jury duty should check the online or call-in system to make sure they still need to appear. 

The face covering rule is Pfeifle’s latest order meant to prevent the spread of coronavirus in courts and jails.

On March 25 he ordered changes to how misdemeanor warrants are handled in order to help “maintain social distancing in the Pennington County Jail."

People with misdemeanor warrants who are arrested for the warrants or an unrelated charge must not be booked into jail if they've been given a personal recognizance bond in the new, unrelated charge, Pfeifle wrote. This order does not apply to people with warrants for domestic abuse, stalking, or violating protection or no contact orders.

Pfeifle also previously limited in-person hearings and made changes to courthouse safety and protocol. 

— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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