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Gallatin Court Justice Court judges uphold Governor Bullock's mask directive, weigh-in on speaking during court

Posted at 8:43 AM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 10:43:33-04

BOZEMAN, MT — Masks are becoming more a part of our lives following the governor’s order requiring us to wear them in public spaces during the pandemic.

That includes court.

Gallatin County Justice Court has had signs like this one (pictured below) since before the order last week -- but following the order, proceedings have continued from behind masks.

Justice Court masks.jpg

But court staff say a question many have started to ask -- why aren’t judges wearing face coverings?

Justice Court Judge Rick West took time to explain why before court proceedings last week.

He said while the courts and judges like himself are following the order, he told the courtroom it’s an important part of the process to be able to see orders being set forth, much like the contents of Governor Bullock’s address.

“I’m advising them over video or in-person of their rights against them, their rights or the charges against, possible charges against them and things like that,” Judge West said during in-custody appearances. “It is imperative that they be able to hear me and understand me. So if there is anyone why I’m not wearing a mask while on the bench, that is why.”

Any questions about masks or mask violations should be directed to the Gallatin City-County Health Department, not 911.