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Crime Macomb judge, 5 assistant prosecutors in self quarantine in coronavirus outbreak

23:55  22 march  2020
23:55  22 march  2020 Source:   freep.com

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A Macomb County Circuit Court judge, five assistant county prosecutors and several other county workers are in self quarantine after people who tested positive for the coronavirus were in courtrooms this week.

Circuit Court Judge Edward Servitto and two court employees are in self quarantine as are the assistant prosecutors and two other employees in the prosecutor's office, officials in those areas said Friday.

"There's been seven of our staffers exposed to people who have tested positive. We have taken every precaution to have them self quarantine for 14 days," said Derek Miller, chief of operations for Prosecutor Eric Smith. "We are taking every precaution to protect the rest of our staff."

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a person posing for the camera: Judge Edward Servitto © Macomb County Judge Edward Servitto

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That includes not having assistant prosecutors physically go into any courtrooms in the county through April 3. Miller said assistant prosecutors are handling all matters via video and teleconference.

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The county announced Wednesday night that an attorney who had tested positive for COVID-19 was working in one of the circuit courtrooms and was in court on Monday.

Miller said the defense attorney was in Servitto's courtroom and that several assistant prosecutors who were in the courtroom had some form of contact or communication with that attorney.

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In its news release, the county said several county employees were recommended to self quarantine for 14 days. It added that its review of the situation indicated that it did not appear that there was any prolonged exposure to any other employees.

Miller said another situation arose in district court in New Baltimore, where there was an attorney whose client tested positive for the coronavirus. The client was not in custody.

Two assistant prosecutors who had contact with that attorney and the secretary who handled the files from court that day are in self quarantine, Miller said.

He said there are no confirmed positive coronavirus cases in the prosecutor's office. The work areas of those in self quarantine are being disinfected.

"Under these unprecedented times, there is no need to have someone put themselves in those settings," Miller said, adding they are encouraging people to work remotely to keep staff, law enforcement, victims and others safe.

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Circuit court judges are working in the office and remotely. The court is consolidating and coordinating with the chief judge and four other judges to handle the necessary cases, according to Chief Judge James Biernat Jr.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered all trial courts statewide to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to no more than 10 people, including staff, and to practice social distancing and to limit court activity to only essential functions.

“All trial courts must take immediate action to protect the public and court personnel by limiting activity only to essential functions,” Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack said in a release. “The Supreme Court speaks with one, decisive voice: Courts must respond so that the policy is uniform all across Michigan.”

Essential functions include arraignments for in-custody defendants, review and determination of requests for search warrants and personal protection orders, certain child protective proceedings, and critical issues regarding child support and child custody, according to the release.

It adds that courts are provided additional flexibility to conduct business using technology, such as video and telephone conferencing.

Of of late Sunday afternoon, Michigan has logged nearly 1,035 positive coronavirus cases and nine deaths in the global pandemic.

Contact Christina Hall: chall@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Macomb judge, 5 assistant prosecutors in self quarantine in coronavirus outbreak

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