The presiding judge of the court, Gustavo Gelpí, indicated that the measure seeks to avoid contagion not only from employees and the general public, but also to avoid exposing those detained who are in the federal detention center. (Ramón “Tonito” Zayas)
The Federal District Court of Puerto Rico extended the closure of face-to-face operations until November 9 as a measure to prevent COVID-19 infections.
This was reported today by the presiding judge of that court, Gustavo Gelpí, who indicated that all the proceedings will continue virtually.
“After consulting with my colleagues and the Secretary of the Federal Court, we have decided not to reopen until after the elections,” said Gelpí.
“The key numbers that we see and take into account for this decision are those of hospitalizations, intubations and deaths. They have not dropped significantly in recent weeks, “he added.
All defendants or parties to cases have the option of conducting hearings via videoconference.
Instead, the order issued by Gelpí indicates that procedures that require face-to-face hearings will be postponed at least until after November 9.
“We will therefore continue to work virtually and hold videoconference views as we have successfully done so far. The most important thing for us at this time is the health and well-being of our employees, lawyers, bailiffs, probation officers and the general public that attends the court, ”said Gelpí.
He added that “just as important is not exposing those detainees who are in the federal detention center (MDC) in Guaynabo. So far no person in the general population has tested positive for Covid 19 and should remain so ”.
To date, the only infected inside the prison belonged to a group of inmates who were sent from the United States and a group of new entrants detained on the high seas. All were kept isolated from the rest of the general population.
“The judges want to reopen under our recently approved reopening plan. But in order to do this, it is imperative that the general public strictly obey the Governor's executive orders ”, stated Gelpí.
“This is not a joke. And as long as there are people who think of themselves, and not of their fellow citizens, we will not see improvement nor can we responsibly reopen, “he said.