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The Maine court system on Monday vacated all outstanding warrants for unpaid court fines and fees and for failure to appear for hearings.
The court system made the move to keep people from being arrested and brought to county jail on those types of warrants as a way to slow the spread of coronavirus. The 12,420 vacated warrants apply to unpaid fines, unpaid restitution, unpaid court-appointed counsel fees, failure to appear for unpaid fine hearings, and any other failure to appear and pay other fees.
Warrants had been issued for 12,420, people, according to Amy Quinlan, spokeswoman for the judiciary. Some defendants had multiple pending financial warrants.
The court system also issued an order broadening the legal definition of face-to-face or in-person contact so interviews with children and families can take place via video or phone and people do not have to show up at a courthouse to deal with urgent family matters.
The changes are just the latest to state and federal courts as they react to the spread of COVID-19.
State and federal jury trials in Maine were suspended Friday in response to the coronavirus outbreak but courthouses remain open to the public.
The Maine court system announced the postponement of “all in-person court events for family, civil, and criminal dockets” through May 1.
Exceptions include some procedures involving jail inmates, juveniles, protection from abuse and protection from harassment orders, child protective matters and mental health determinations.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court also canceled oral arguments in April. Cases will be decided based on written briefs.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease