Full Public Access To Maricopa County Courts Starts Monday
More courtrooms available to hold trials are part of a return to full public access of courts and judicial offices in Maricopa County that starts Monday.
The judge who oversees the judicial branch says just being able to set trial dates helps move cases through the system.
The pandemic put criminal trials in Maricopa County on hold until December. Civil trials were on ice until April. When they resumed, safety meant there were less courtrooms available than before the virus hit.
Having more courtrooms now makes it easier to schedule cases for jury selection and opening arguments.
Deals are often reached right before these proceedings start, said Presiding Judge Joseph Welty.
"Our ability to assure the parties of a firm trial date is critical to the movement of cases through the system,” he said
The pandemic’s hampering of criminal investigations and discovery in civil actions means cases that would normally be ready to start trial are delayed, Welty said.
Virtual proceedings will still be accessible for certain types of hearings, but observing others will require people to be inside the courtroom.
“What we’re principally looking at are things that involve the taking of evidence or testimony. Those are being done more in person,” said Welty, who credits hundreds of judicial branch staff for keeping the courts open since March 2020, making them safer by reducing foot traffic, and ensuring the constitutional right to public access.
A daily calendar showing which hearings get live-streamed and which won’t is available on the Maricopa County Superior Court website.
A health check is required when entering judicial branch facilities and be sure to wear a mask.