Riverside County Courts Update: April 13, 2020

Good afternoon everyone!

In light of the sudden revelation thanks to The Press-Enterprise’s reporting that there are at least 80 local defendants in custody who have contracted COVID-19, I hope everyone is exercising extreme caution and preventative measures.
Judge Vineyard sent this email out this afternoon, and I think it’s critical that everyone who may have come into contact with these deputies be advised. 
Hoping everyone is healthy and safe.
Graham D. Donath, President
Riverside County Criminal Defense Bar Association

The following is being sent on behalf of the Hon. John W. Vineyard, Presiding Judge and W. Samuel Hamrick, Jr., Court Executive Officer.

Court Family:

This morning we were notified that two Court Services Deputy Sheriffs have tested positive for COVID-19.  While HIPPA regulations prohibit us from identifying these deputies by name, we can confirm they worked in our courthouses, we can share the facts regarding their assignments and potential contacts, and we can inform you of our response.

Please keep in mind that we are working with Riverside County Public Health, and following their protocols for contact tracing, and we are relying on their advice and instructions regarding our responses to these two positive tests.  County Public Health should be communicating with those whose contacts cause them concerns.  

As we mentioned last week, Public Health Officer, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, has described the contacts that do not necessarily rise to the definition of exposure: 
– Incidental or brief contact (as in passing in a hallway, brief conversation [especially outdoors or in large airspaces], brief exchanges of documents or items)
– Contacts of contacts (it just doesn’t incubate *that* quickly)
– Conversation with social distancing and no physical contact, especially if everyone has face coverings

Riverside Juvenile
We learned this morning that a Sheriff’s deputy, assigned to Riverside Juvenile Courthouse, has tested positive for COVID-19.  We are advised that this deputy has had contact with staff and judicial officers working in the Riverside Juvenile Courthouse.  

In an abundance of caution, and based on what we know so far about his contacts in the Riverside Juvenile Courthouse, we are closing that facility until further notice.  We are asking all Court employees and judicial officers that have worked in that facility during the past 14 days to self-quarantine at home until further notice.

Effective tomorrow, April 14, 2020, all Riverside Juvenile cases will be heard in either Southwest Juvenile or Indio Juvenile.

Riverside Hall of Justice
We also learned late this morning that a Sheriff’s deputy who recently worked in the Hall of Justice (HOJ) has tested positive.  Based on the information we have, this deputy worked in Department 63, the main lobby on the first floor and at the front entrance.  

The deputy apparently wore an N95 face mask while he worked in HOJ and had only minimal contact with employees and judicial officers in HOJ.  In accordance with County Public Health guidelines, we will not be closing HOJ or taking any other action unless advised to do so by County Public Health.

In both the Riverside Juvenile Courthouse and HOJ circumstances, we are following protocols recommended by County Public Health.  We expect County Public Health to contact those whose contacts cause them concern.  We might add that appropriate Justice Partners have been notified of these actions.

Your health and safety remain our primary concern.  If circumstances change, we will keep you informed.

John W. Vineyard                                                   W. Samuel Hamrick, Jr.
Presiding Judge                                                       Court Executive Officer

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