It was revealed on Thursday afternoon that there was a possible COVID 19 exposure to a member of the Missoula Municipal Court staff, so due to orders from the Missoula City County Health Department the court has closed its doors indefinitely.

We were advised by the County Health Department that our employees or the vast majority of our employees should self isolated. So we are shut down at the moment to in person contacts from the public.

“We received a report that there was a possible close contact and I want to stress that it's possible at this point,” said Judge Kathleen Jenks. “We were advised by the County Health Department that our employees or the vast majority of our employees should self isolated. So we are shut down at the moment to in person contacts from the public.”

Jenks said the notification through the court into a rapid transition into virtual appearances.

“We are pretty frantically trying to get things set up for virtual court to move forward with scheduled hearings,” she said. “Hopefully at some point soon with initial appearances from the public, as soon as we're able to achieve that, there are a lot of technology hurdles and things that we've been jumping through.”

Jenks said she and her staff are trying to take care of the basics so that the wheels of justice can continue turning.

“Our priority thus far has been to make sure that we are set up to take care of jail appearances,” she said. “They have been the priority this morning and yesterday afternoon so that we could set up a solid connection with the jail so that nobody spends any longer there than they would have to.”

Traffic fines must still be paid, however Jenks said the COVID pandemic has also affected those who appear before the court.

“With COVID people have not been working and fines have been, you know, certainly were imposing lower anyway,” she said. “However, as far as the cases processing to the court, you know, that's all unfortunately, or fortunately I guess, going to be waiting for us when we get back in, you know, two weeks or so.”

According to a press release from the City of Missoula:

‘Hearings that are scheduled before Nov. 6 will be rescheduled. People represented by attorneys should contact their attorneys with questions. Court staff will contact people representing themselves with new court dates.

CitePayUSA, the Montana Courts online payment system, can handle many cases, and people owing payments can pay online through CitePay, by mail or with cash through the drop box at the entrance to City Hall at 435 Ryman St.’

Get more details by visiting the Municipal Court website.