The Maine Judicial Branch says about half of the state's courts will be closed if a budget isn't passed in time to avoid a shutdown.

State Court Administrator Ted Glessner sent out a memo today, explaining the determining factors for how the judicial branch would operate. If the Governor signs an order of civil emergency, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court will issue an order on Friday, detailing emergency operations.

Court Clerks offices will only to be open to the public on a limited basis to address cases designated as essential. At least one courthouse in each county will be open to the public during normal hours, but services will be limited. Justices of the Peace will continue to be compensated for work regarding warrants, blue papers, and probable cause determinations during any shutdown.

The types of cases that will be heard include criminal matters in which the defendant or juvenile is in custody, to include arraignments, dispositional conferences, motions, jury selections, trials, etc. In addition, limited proceedings in which the juvenile or defendant is not in custody, including murder trials, motions to revoke or amend bail or probation, and scheduled arraignments, including the setting of bail and conditions of release will be heard. Also designated as essential are civil and family matters like protection from abuse orders, child protection matters, and mental health proceedings. For more information, log onto the Maine Courts website.

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