Courthouses around Wisconsin are staring to slowly reopen to in-person hearings. The courtrooms are going to look very different because of COVID-19 precautions. Many people are wondering whether or not they will be required to wear a mask when they go inside a courthouse.
Under a Wisconsin Supreme Court order issued on May 22, 2020, courts must require everyone in a courtroom to wear a mask/face covering. Many courthouses will also enforce this in common areas such as hallways.
Currently many courtrooms are being retrofitted with plexiglass which will provide separation between Judges, litigants, attorneys and other staff in the courtroom.
There is talk of judges having very limited exceptions for when allowing someone to not wear a mask/face covering. The most common exceptions being discussed are: someone is providing testimony and their credibility is being determined; if a person has a medical condition and it would be physically detrimental to their health to have a mask/face covering. Those who refuse to wear masks for any other reasons are likely to be asked to leave the courtroom.
If you have an upcoming court date and you believe that you should be excused from wearing a mask, it is best if you check with your attorney or the court ahead of time to see if that will be allowed. You should also get a letter from your doctor stating that you cannot wear a mask/face covering.
Absent a documented medical reason, for the foreseeable future, everyone who is entering a courthouse should be expected to wear a mask.
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