Mississippi Supreme Court orders masks to be worn in state courtrooms

Published 4:32 pm Thursday, July 23, 2020

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph on Thursday ordered that masks be worn by everyone in all courtrooms in the state to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

“Public safety was a concern of the drafters of our Constitution and remains a paramount concern today. As such, the Court continues to balance personal rights with the constitutional obligation to remain open and accessible,” the Chief Justice wrote in Emergency Administrative Order 14, issued July 23.

The Chief Justice said in the order, “Throughout our Emergency Administrative Orders, the Court has recognized the necessity of balancing health risks presented by COVID-19 with the courts’ constitutional and statutory duty to remain open and accessible. In light of the overwhelming evidence, I find that modification of prior Emergency Administrative Orders is warranted. The aforementioned evidence, when coupled with the increasing transmission of the COVID-19 virus within this State, dictates that face coverings over the nose and mouth of all persons shall be required in every courtroom in this State, without exception, upon the entry of this Order.”

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The order said, “Courts are unlike businesses, e.g., shops, stores, restaurants, salons, or houses of worship, where one’s presence is a personal decision, voluntarily made. The presence of court personnel, including the judge, law clerks, court clerks, law enforcement, bailiffs, court reporters, counsel, parties, witnesses, jurors, and victims, is regularly required, and at times, they are in close proximity to each other. Others are commanded to attend court. While masks may be objectionable or pose a slight inconvenience to some, such inconvenience cannot prevent our courts from remaining open and accessible to all.”

MSC Emergency Administrative Order 14 may be read in its entirety at: https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=700_506525.pdf&c=91465&a=N&s=2