Tracking courthouse mask policies 😷

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NCSC tracking rapidly changing courthouse mask policies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released recommendations about how fully vaccinated people can resume activities that they did before the pandemic. Their guidance says specifically: “You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

And that caveat is where state courts come in. As vaccination rates rise and court facilities see more visitors, state courts are grappling with how to proceed.

At least 18 state supreme courts or chief justices have issued orders currently requiring face masks in state courts, according to information compiled by NCSC. In some cases those orders were issued months ago, though in some others, like Michigan, the masking requirement was recently reinforced.

Many other states recently lifted existing mask mandate orders issued by state supreme courts or chief justices, and in some cases have indicated that whether to require masks will be left to local discretion or individual judges’ discretion.

The states cover all regions of the country, as seen in this data visualization. States marked in red continue to require masks in the courthouse; states marked in yellow have rescinded the requirement, or left it to local discretion. The visualization includes a link to the most relevant order from each state.

It’s important to note the data is changing rapidly. If you can point us to a new order in your state, please contact William Raftery, NCSC senior analyst who is compiling information on this subject.

Raftery said, “We appear to be ending the pandemic as we started it -- with a variety of different rules and orders on who must wear masks, when, and under what circumstances, depending on the state or, in some instances, the locality in question.

Apply for NCSC's Family-Centered Justice program

NCSC, in collaboration with State Justice Institute, is looking for participants in its Family-Centered Justice program, which aims to help courts infuse effective family drug court principles into the broader family and dependency court system.

Applicants must demonstrate, at a minimum, buy-in from the courts, child welfare, and treatment. Up to six sites will be selected for funding. Each site will receive $50,000 in funding for a twelve-month period that will begin in August 2021. An applicant webinar will be held on Wednesday, June 9 at 1:30 ET.  Applications are due no later than July 9, 2021 at 5:00pm ET.