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Judge wants remote hearings after guns allowed in courthouse

CUSTER, S.D. — The presiding judge of South Dakota’s  7th Judicial Circuit has written a proposed order saying judges won’t appear in Custer County court after commissioners approved a measure allowing guns inside the courthouse.

County commissioners adopted the ordinance to allow firearms despite opposition from presiding Judge Craig Pfeifle and Judge Matt Brown and a state’s attorney’s opinion that it would be a safety risk, a legal liability and a financial burden.

Pfeifle said he’s sent the proposed order to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which will review it for approval or rejection in January, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The proposed order says Custer County hearings will be overseen by a judge appearing remotely through audio or video feeds or take place at the Pennington County Courthouse in Rapid City.

It’s unclear if lawyers and the public can take advantage of the video and audio feeds if they are concerned for their safety.

Custer County won’t have to worry about jury trials for now since COVID-19 has paused the proceedings across the 7th Circuit, which includes Custer, Pennington, Fall River and Oglala Lakota counties. That order expires Dec. 31.

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