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COVID-19 Action Plan & Pending Matters

With the evolving situation in North Dakota, particularly in the Bismarck-Mandan metropolitan area, last week we revised our plan and operations to effectively carry on the course of business and representation of our clients, while continuing to exercise caution for everyone’s health and safety in these interesting times. We strongly encourage you to follow us on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) for updates as the situation continues to rapidly evolve.

As of last Wednesday, we are not taking any in-person appointments, and are handling all client business remotely through any available electronic means that work best for our clients. As always, we remain available by e-mail and phone, and are willing and able to do video/web conferencing with clients and prospective clients who are comforted by seeing a live person on the other end of a conversation.

We have already reached out to existing clients who had appointments set up in this period and have made other arrangements, and have been and will continue to be in contact with those who have upcoming court dates or other deadlines. For the most part, all of our scheduled hearings and appearances scheduled between now and April 25 have been continued, or are being conducted by electronic means.

While our physical office is essentially closed, we are continuing to operate remotely and have staff in place to monitor traditional mail, take calls, and provide as close to the same level of service as “normal.” The legal system, like most businesses, continues to evolve in terms of technology and electronic access, and that has been accelerated by the current situation. Martens PLLC, from our beginning, implemented cloud technology to permit access to necessary resources so we could function from a variety of locations to better serve our clients. We continue to strive to be “tech savvy” in these evolving times, and are diligently working to keep our practice available and fully functioning for all current and prospective clients in light of the “new normal.”

For those with currently pending legal matters in North Dakota state courts, the Supreme Court issued an Emergency Order and followed it up with particular guidance, which continues to be updated as the situation unfolds. For now, all jury trials set for between March 16 and April 24 have been suspended, and rescheduled to later dates, and most bench trials and non-emergency hearings have been continued, or will be held by electronic means. Initial appearances/bond hearings and preliminary hearings in criminal matters are proceeding, but are largely being conducted electronically (via phone and/or interactive television (ITV)). Locally, in the South Central Judicial District, the vast majority of hearings have been continued, with the exceptions listed above, and a memorandum was recently issued by the Presiding Judge of the District to attorneys regarding procedures for those hearings. County-by-county response information is also provided, but continues to change in light of new developments. One can also contact the Clerk of Court for both District and Municipal Courts for a respective County or City for updated information as it may pertain to a particular matter.

The United States District Court for North Dakota also issued a similar Administrative Order, which has since been revised. All federal courthouses in North Dakota are closed to the public, except for scheduled appointments. All jury trials scheduled between March 16 and April 10 have been continued. Other deadlines and hearings have also been continued, with the exception of initial appearances, arraignments, and detention hearings. All hearings are presently suspended through April 3. The Order will be vacated, amended, or extended no later than April 10. For updates, they recommend consulting their site for current information and, as with state courts, one can also reach out to the clerk’s office for the respective courthouse for information as it may pertain to a particular matter.

If you have any questions about a pending matter, please contact us by e-mail or phone for further guidance and information. If we cannot get to you right away, please know that we strive to respond to all contact within 24-48 hours, whether by phone or e-mail, which has long been our internal policy. Thank you for your continued patronage, as well as your patience and understanding in these interesting times. We look forward to continuing doing business with you now and for years to come.