Alcovy Judicial Circuit Chief Judge John Ott sent out an emergency decree Wednesday morning in the wake of the death of fellow Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson, Jr. as well as his own positive COVID-19 test result announced Tuesday.
According to the order, due to the fact that “several judges and staff working in the Newton and Walton County Courthouses have tested positive for COVID-19,” it was determined that a judicial emergency exists in the counties. Ott’s decree goes on to note that the courthouses will be closed with immediate effect until July 14, 2020. During that time, the courthouses will be given a thorough cleaning and Ott will determine what best practices will be implemented for a more concerted effort in social distancing. Also, in the wake of Johnson’s death, the courts will have to take a look at how to balance the available judicial resources.
Ott had announced on Tuesday that he and other judges and some staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, acting district attorney for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, Randy McGinly, said that outside of some of the judges, he had not had any staff members in the Walton County DA’s office test positive, but there had been some in the Newton County office.
At this time, the courthouses are expected to open back at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15 unless this order is extended or superseded.
A copy of the Declaration follows.