Continuing court during emergency situations

tj-20130412-01WILLIAMS—The weight of snow has just collapsed the roof. The snow has caused a train to derail on Seventh street sparking a horrendous forest fire. The fire is melting the snow causing flooding. The flooding freezes over Railroad Avenue causing a semi to skid out of control into the building. Okay, not all of those things are likely to happen at one time, but something might happen to cause the evacuation of the Williams Justice Center. The staff of the Williams Justice Center will have to have a way to provide important court services after that.

The Williams Municipal and Justice Courts are working together with Coconino County Court Administration to develop our Continuous Operations (COOP) plan to enable our courts to continue providing services during any unanticipated emergency or contingency.

“The court has to be able to issue orders—court orders—and those things 24/7. We have to be able to provide orders of protection and other court orders during business hours and that take precedence in court,” Justice of the Peace Robert Krombeen explained.

“If somebody’s arrested in the city they have to be seen by the JP or a magistrate within twenty-four hours. They have to be. For a felony—a homicide, for example—they would be released in twenty-four hours. That’s required by law and the Arizona Constitution.”

The Flagstaff Court system has their own system as part of the County emergency plan. “They have the specifics of their plan in place where they have other sites in the greater Flagstaff area where they could set up their court, as well, so that they could maintain court within their precinct.”

Krombeen explained that our plan has two alternative sites within our precinct so that we can maintain court in this area. “If something really weird happened where it was going to be a longer term, we could potentially go to Flagstaff. But it’s our goal and our plan to set up to have those services provided right here.”

One of the sites being considered is the Coconino Community College building which is being turned over to the high school. It has facilities to allow video court similar to the facilities in the Williams Justice Center. The other location is the Clark Memorial Airport which has sufficient parking and Internet facilities that could allow the same function.

So if an emergency should occur in any of the areas serviced by the Williams Justice Center, do not try to take advantage of the situation. You will not pass go, you may loose $200 and you may go to jail.