Tulsa County Courthouse Begins Phase One of Reopening

Monday, May 18th 2020, 11:39 am
By: Amy Avery


Tulsa County District Courts are set to resume Monday after the Oklahoma Supreme Court and Oklahoma Court of Appeals shut down courtrooms to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

There are two tents set up outside the Tulsa County Courthouse as an initial check in process to try to limit the number of people actually going inside the building.

"We just thought it would be a good idea if people didn't go into the courthouse if they didn't have to," said Tulsa County District Judge Doug Drummond.

The Tulsa County Courthouse has been closed for about two months now meaning hundreds of cases have been pushed back.              

Courthouse staff said people should have already been notified of their new court date through OSCN.              

Tulsa County Court Clerk Don Newberry said they've installed WIFI on the plaza so staff can access court records inside the tents.

"Basically what we've done is taken the counters inside and brought them outside so that we can reduce the flow of traffic inside,” said Tulsa County Court Clerk Don Newberry. 

Newberry said they are requiring people to wear masks inside and are limiting the number of people in common areas and on elevators inside.              

Tulsa County District Judge Doug Drummond said he and a subcommittee of judges have been looking at different courthouse operations around the country to come up with this plan.              

Drummond said phase one is expected to last for the next two weeks and they may need to make changes moving forward.

"We are trying to lessen anxiety both for our staff, the judges and also for the public that come because this is a stressful time for everyone,” said Drummond.

Some departments, like the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office, have still been meeting with attorneys to move cases forward during the pandemic.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said a bond and arraignment docket has still been happening through closed circuit during the past month.              

This means if someone gets arrested, they can still meet with them virtually at the jail.

"Every day we meet in one of the courtrooms here at the courthouse that's wired for video hook up. A public defender district attorney staff and a judge are hearing the matter and determining what the bond is and then that case gets set for a future date,” said Kunzweiler.

Right now, only attorneys are appearing for most criminal cases to help reduce the number of people inside the courthouse.