Douglas County Court halts nearly all eviction hearings amid pandemic

Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 6:41 PM CDT
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It’s a move likely to prevent countless numbers of people from being kicked out of their homes amid the coronavirus outbreak. Douglas County Court confirmed late Monday afternoon it will halt nearly all eviction hearings until the end of May.

Shelby and Dereck Nash showed up at court Monday fighting to stay in their home.

“We have been impacted by Covid-19 with our jobs and haven’t been able to get to work and home school our kids,” said Shelby.

The Nash’s is one of about 70 eviction cases that were set to go in front of a Douglas County judge this week.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Shelby. “We’re all supposed to be in this together and you have people trying to kick people out of their homes when that’s where they need to be.”

Nebraska Legal Aid has been pushing for courts across the state to freeze eviction hearings.

Until it’s safe for people to show up in court, to actually be displaced from their homes, and go shelter with other individuals, we think the only thing makes sense is to just put a hold on this practice for the time being,” said Scott Mertz, an attorney with Legal Aid Nebraska.

Under Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts' executive order, only renters who are financially hit by the pandemic are clearly protected for rent missed after March 13.

“The main thing that I took from court would encourage the state to move that order back to the first to benefit the people who are actually being affected,” said Dereck Nash.

6 News asked the Governor if he’s concerned about evictions putting people’s health at risk, whether that be the evictions themselves, or the hearings; he addressed the courtrooms.

“We expect the courts to take the same sort of steps that meatpackers or anyone else would have to take to keep them safe and they’re doing that,” said Governor Ricketts.

About seven people were officially evicted from their homes this morning in Douglas County Court prior to the decision to halt hearings. It should be noted the court will continue to hear eviction cases that involve criminal activity.

As for the Nash’s they were able to work out a payment plan with their property manager before they’re case went to court.

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