UPDATE: Liberty County Judge Jay Knight on Thursday afternoon made the decision to close all offices within the Liberty County Courthouse next week. With the Christmas holidays next week, it had always been the intended plan to close at noon on Wednesday and be closed Thursday and Friday. Knight said that with 19 active cases of COVID-19 among courthouse staff, the early closing is necessary to stop any further spread of the illness.
The Liberty County Courthouse is looking more and more like a ghost town as more county employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
The most recent case is in the district clerk’s office, which has shut down until Dec. 28. This is the second time the district clerk’s office has closed this year as a result of COVID-19. The last time was in March 2020. Last week, it was announced that the county clerk’s office in the courthouse was closing as a result of County Clerk Lee Haidusek Chambers contracting the virus.
“We feel very fortunate that we have made it this far without more cases. We are just taking precautions to stop the spread,” said Melody Gilmore, deputy clerk for District Clerk Delia Sellers.
As the courts are not operating at this time, the closure of the district clerk’s office may go largely unnoticed by most people. Attorneys, however, may be inconvenienced slightly as they will have to rely on online services to obtain case records. Documents, such as orders, motions, citations and general information, must be uploaded to efiletexas.gov.
All court case information must obtained from iDocket. A link to iDocket may also be found on the district clerk’s website, https://www.co.liberty.tx.us/page/liberty.District.Clerk.
As of now, the only offices still open in the Liberty County Courthouse are the Elections Administration Office, County Attorney’s Office and the County Judge’s Office. County Judge Jay Knight and Elections Administrator Klint Bush say their staff members are taking precautions to avoid contracting the illness. Courthouse security also is still in place at the west side entrance of the courthouse.
County Attorney Matt Poston said his office is operating by appointment only or for applicants in need of protective orders.
“We are hopeful that things turn around after Christmas. This has hit the courthouse like a ton of bricks,” Knight said.
The county annex in Dayton is also shut down at this time due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19. For now, the county annex in Cleveland is open with limited operations.
Knight said the Liberty County Tax Assessor-Collection’s office in Liberty remains open but employees are working split shifts to avoid contact. The County’s four road and bridge precincts are also working split shifts.