COVID-19 Information Center
The health and safety of the Public, Court Users, and our staff is our top priority. We have created this page to keep you informed about how we are responding to prevent the spread of infectious disease in the Courts to keep court users and staff safe and healthy, and minimize the impact on Access to Justice.
To our Court Community
Our goal is to keep you informed during this unprecedented health event and how it is impacting court services. We know that you have many questions and we will continue to do our best to anticipate them, and address them with the best and latest information that we have available to us. Please check this page often, and consider subscribing to our News Posting at: News Email Subscriptions.
During this time, the Cowlitz County Law Library will be closed. The Hall of Justice, Superior Court Clerk's office, and Superior Court Administration will have limited hours of operation and access.
The listing below, which was revised May 21, 2020, is the current status of court operations. Please be advised that as this situation progresses, more information will be made available and changes will be posted below so make sure to check back regularly. You can view Emergency Order 2-A that details the changes made May 1, 2020 in regards to Governor Inslee's continued Stay at Home Order. Emergency Order No 1-A re: Court Operations that detail the updated changes made on March 19, 2020 and Emergency Rule 3 (Order Expanding Time for Probable Cause Hearing for Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) Hearings) and Emergency Order No. 3 (Mod.) RE: Court Operations - ITA Hearings (Modification of Emergency Order No. 3). If the information below differs from Emergency Order No 2-A, defer to Emergency Order 2-A and if possible email SuperiorCourtAdministration@co.cowlitz.wa.us so that this can be updated.
COWLITZ COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. CASES WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF AS FOLLOWS:
ALL JURORS ARE EXCUSED FROM JURY SERVICE THROUGH JULY 13, 2020. PLEASE CONTACT THE SUPERIOR COURT CLERK’S OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION AT 360-577-3016
EX PARTE: TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDERS WILL CONTINUE TO BE REVIEWED BY A JUDICIAL OFFICER ON A DAILY BASIS. All other Ex Parte can still be submitted by sending documents to the Superior Court Clerk’s Office, along with any fee required by that Office (unless waived). All the regular documents required by the Court are still required to be submitted with the Ex Parte request. However, the Court may or may not consider the request until after May 18, 2020, so do not call the Clerk’s Office asking if your documents have been signed by a judge. The only thing that will definitely be considered are requests for temporary protection orders.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/HARASSMENT/STALKING/SEXUAL ASSAULT/CIVIL PROTECTION HEARINGS
-IF NO SERVICE ON OTHER PARTY:
-If Temporary PO has been granted by a judicial officer and no proof of service on other party filed, then the assigned judicial officer will automatically reissue an order setting a new date and reissue the temporary PO until that new date. The parties are NOT TO APPEAR until the new date for the PO hearing.
-If Temporary PO has been denied, but a hearing has been set, and no proof of service on other party filed, then the assigned judicial officer will automatically reissue an order setting a new date. The parties are NOT TO APPEAR until the new date for the PO hearing.
-IF PROOF OF SERVICE ON OTHER PARTY FILED:
i) Parties should appear by Court Call or request a continuance from the clerk’s office. If a continuance is requested and the other party does not object, the assigned judicial officer will reissue the temporary order setting a new date after 5/18/2020. The parties are NOT TO APPEAR until the new date for the PO hearing.
-WEAPONS SURRENDER COMPLIANCE HEARINGS: Petitioners shall not appear except by Court Call.
i) All newly set Order to Surrender Weapons Compliance Review Hearings shall be extended beyond May 18, 2020 pursuant to Supreme Court Emergency Order.
ii) For Pending Compliance Hearings: If a Respondent is served with an Order to Surrender Weapons and there is proof of service then the hearing will proceed as scheduled but the Respondent shall appear by Court Call ONLY IF Respondent has not already filed a “Declaration of Non-Surrender” or a “Receipt for Surrender.”
FAMILY LAW CASES
Starting May 18, 2020, all family law dockets will proceed as scheduled. However, the default rule moving forward will be to have all family law motions decided solely on the pleadings (no oral argument). Additionally, proposed orders must be delivered as bench copies and emailed to the appropriate docket judge and judicial assistant, so written decisions and orders can be made and entered as quickly as possible. This will eliminate the need for any presentation dockets or additional hearings. While this decision was instigated by the current circumstances we are under, the intention is for this to be the new normal and continue forward, with potential for modification. To view Timelines and Details for this revised process click here.
-EMERGENCY MOTIONS: The Court will consider all emergency matters through May 15, 2020 in advance, and the judge will decide it only on the documents that have been filed with the Clerk. Once the judge makes a decision he/she will send an email with their decision to the attorneys, but if you do not have an attorney, then to the parties of the case. The judge will decide if it is an emergency or not.
-NON-EMERGENCY MOTIONS: The non-emergency motion will be cancelled and you will have to file a request to put it on a date and time after June 1. This includes a request for a hearing to finalize a divorce.
-AUTOMATIC ORDERS: The judge will sign in all case filed since March 1, a temporary order. You can see what the temporary order looks like by clicking here.
-TRIALS: All family law trials scheduled through June 1, 2020 are cancelled. All trial assignment docket are cancelled and will start again the week of June 1, 2020. You will need to request a new date and time on a Trial Assignment docket.
-MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES: All mandatory settlement conferences scheduled through May 15, 2020 are cancelled. You will need to request a new date and time on a Trial Assignment docket set after May 18, 2020.
-PATERNITY/CONTEMPT AND CHILD SUPPORT TRIAL DOCKETS: These hearings are cancelled until the next regularly scheduled hearing on or after May 18, 2020.
CIVIL LAW CASES
All other civil motions not addressed above, including, but not limited to Receivership and Minor Settlements, but not Unlawful Detainers, shall be noted and presented on the pleadings only for consideration by the Court. All in-person hearings on these calendars are suspended. Unlawful Detainers shall be suspended until further order of this Court.
-TRIALS: All civil jury trials are stricken through July 10, 2020. You will need to request a new date and time on a Trial Assignment docket on or after May 20, 2020. All civil bench trials are stricken until June 1, 2020. The party shall renote the matter for a new date on the Trial Scheduling docket on or after May 20, 2020.
CRIMINAL LAW CASES
-Call/contact your attorney for information on your case. Office of Public Defense: 360-578-7430.
-All trials are cancelled until a date rescheduled by the Court.
-If your youth is in detention, you can contact detention at 360-577-3100.
-All drug and mental health courts (Adult/SAFE/ITC/HOPE) are cancelled, but will start again the week of May 4.
MENTAL HEALTH HEARINGS AT ST. JOHNS
-Mental health hearings will be held one day per week, Fridays at 9:00 am. The patient and hospital staff will participate remotely, hearings are open to the public at the Hall of Justice. Call/contact your attorney for information on your case. Office of Public Defense: 360-578-7430. See Emergency Rule No 3 here.
-Call/contact your attorney or social worker on your case.
-Trials are cancelled and will be rescheduled to a date after June 1.
-HOPE Court is cancelled, but will start again virtually the week of May 4.
TRUANCY OR AT RISK YOU CASES
-Call the Juvenile Court Clerk for more information. The phone number for the Clerk is 360-577-3100.
Please review ALL court orders to determine more specific details.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the challenges of this unprecedented event.
Over the next weeks, you can expect further changes to our schedule and availability of services. We encourage you to check back here often. We will update our website, https://www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us/ and specifically this COVID-19 section, https://www.cowlitzsuperiorcourt.us/covid-19 on a regular basis as things change.