People charged with misdemeanors in Tulsa County who have had their cases delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic could soon get their day in court, but not actually in a courtroom.
The county has reached an agreement with ASM Global to have court dates at the Cox Business Convention Center. The first one will be Jan. 29. Initial appearances cases where the defendant is not in custody will be on the dockets. Many of those have been postponed because the courthouse lacks space.
"So, the advantage of the Cox Center is, is that we have enough room over there where we can socially distance quite a few people. And so, we’ll be running multiple dockets per day, and we think we could probably take care of 300 or 400 or 500 — say 300 or 400 — each day," said Tulsa County District Court Judge Doug Drummond.
According to the rental agreement, Tulsa County will have 4,800 square feet in two conference halls for 12 hours at a discounted rate of $750.
Proceedings where defendants are in custody have continued because video conferencing is available through the Tulsa County Jail. Drummond said the court didn't think video conferencing would work for cases going on the convention center dockets.
"Right now, if you look at the dockets, we have so many of the people coming in every day on that, we don’t have the capability of doing that. And then if they don’t have access to technology or a screen or whatever, which may sound strange but it’s true, then we couldn’t do that, and then we’d have to kind of figure out a way how to communicate that to everybody," Drummond said.
There will be court dockets at the Cox Business Convention Center scheduled March 12, April 16, May 28 and June 25 as well. Three more dates could be added if needed.