Courts & COVID in Kansas City, Missouri

Kimberly2 1 Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

It’s a confusing time.Politicians can’t seem to decide if masks work or not, but the scientists are clear – they help slow down the spread of the virus.Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas just extended the mask requirement in Kansas City to January 19, 2020.Kansas City Municipal Court only has virtual appearances these days. Jackson County Court in Kansas City and Independence are mostly all virtual, and I don’t know if anyone is bringing prisoners live and in person to court rooms in the metro.Courts in more rural areas are ready to get Jury Trials going, and a few have. It’s difficult with 50 or so people in one room, with masks, and the hope that people will focus on us lawyers asking them questions about their biases and preconceived notions of justice.And me, tough to focus as while I type this blog my fingers are aching a little bit and I have a clammy forehead and just enough of a sore throat to know I have one.My kids have had temperatures over 100 a few times in the past week, but not for more than a day or two.Headaches appear and go away, almost with the commercials on the TV that seems to have been on the entire time we’ve been quarantined, again, for these eight days.All this, and last week, three of the four who live in my house came up negative for the ‘vid.Truly confusing.In the meantime, I’ve still managed to help clients with their cases in Kansas City Municipal Court and keep them driving without any points on their license. And today, we held a brief but beneficial hearing in a serious felony via Webex, a video conferencing platform.Amongst all this, a deputy sheriff working in Clayton, Missouri, at the courthouse there passed away due to complications with COVID-19.It’s too scary.I know right now we likely have the virus, and major complications aside, I’m hoping that my kids get to start back to school, and I can keep moving my clients’ cases forward to make sure that their interests are maintained.Reality is I just don’t know that court is all that important to anyone in the face of this pandemic.I mean, of course you can’t forget about your obligations, but safety and health are the primary thing.It’s hard to remember, no matter what job we do, that there are things more important than that job. I have no doubt that the deputy sheriff that passed this week went to work everyday did his duty to the Court and the community, and still he’s gone.Nothing will change that.I just don’t know if anything that happens in a courthouse, is worth a life of someone working there. I feel for folks who have to go no matter what. Essential workers, I guess they are called now.I just wonder what things are truly essential in the face of such a pervasive disease with nearly 70,000 Missourians infected and almost 1,500 dead.I realize the rush to open our state up has cost lives, I’m just wondering if pushing to open up the court system will take more lives than it’s worth.I need a nap.

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