Judge Charles Glasrud spoke before the Stevens County Board of Commissioners. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

Following an Emergency Closed Session meeting of the Stevens County Board of Commissioners, District Court Judge Charles Glasrud begged the Commissioners that judges be included in any discussion of a possible closure of courtrooms due to coronavirus mitigation efforts. Glasrud told the Board that “we don’t suspend the Constitution, but we can suspend” some rules for public access.

“The watchword from the Courts is that the public has the legal right to be present, and they are discouraged from exercising that right,” said Glasrud. “In other words, we think it would be a better idea that they not. And if we can find other ways to make sure they know what’s happening, we’ll do that. But we don’t feel constitutionally that we can bar them. We just think it’s a bad idea.”

For the time being, the Stevens County courtroom will remain open. Asked by the Board if it’s OK to turn away a member of the public if they have a fever or exhibit symptoms of illness, Glasrud that it’s “very reasonable” to do that. People may have a legal right to be in the courtroom, but Glasrud said other people also have a right to reasonable safety and security measures.

Meanwhile, all Yellow Medicine County offices, with the exception of the Justice Center Main Door location for only essential appearances or business and County Board Meetings, are closed to the public effective immediately and until further notice. That decision was made by the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners at their emergency meeting yesterday.

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