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How Courthouses Reopening Will Impact Employee Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 5/26/2020

Across the country, governors are making plans to ease their states out of lockdowns and start lifting stay-at-home orders that have been in place since March. The reopening process won’t occur all at once: in Michigan, for instance, Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced that she would begin the process of reopening by lifting restrictions only in the northern parts of the state where COVID-19 cases have been sparse. Other states are taking a similar approach. As businesses reopen, courts will resume normal operations—something that will affect background checks, particularly county criminal history searches.

The New York State Court System recently announced plans to start reopening county courts throughout the state. That plan will mirror a strategy laid forth by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, which allows counties to start re-engaging their economies as they meet certain safety benchmarks in the fight against COVID-19. According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 37 New York counties—most of them in Upstate New York, which never reached the case numbers of the New York City area—were up and running by Wednesday, May 20. Most other states are following a similar strategy, which means county courts will soon be opening all over the country.

These openings will have a positive effect on the processing speed of criminal background checks. For the few employers hiring during the pandemic, the closures of county courts posed a significant challenge. Some county criminal history searches can be performed digitally via online databases, but others require in-person checks—unavailable when courts aren’t open.

At backgroundchecks.com, we have a network of experienced criminal record researchers and court runners to handle the on-the-ground responsibilities of conducting a criminal background check. As county courts reopen, our researchers and runners will once again be able to conduct background checks inside courthouses, which will allow us to process county criminal history searches more efficiently.

Federal criminal history checks are not as common as county searches for most hiring situations. According to Law.com, the judiciary is telling federal courts to prepare to reopen. Under judicial guidance, these courts are expected to follow local recommendations in their reopening strategies—a federal court will not reopen until its county has reached necessary safety benchmarks. Federal courts can be expected to reopen alongside county courts in the same areas.

The reopening of the economy will include an acceleration in business and a return to hiring for many companies. Employers wondering how COVID-19 might impact county criminal history searches and other employee background checks are invited to contact backgroundchecks.com directly to learn more.


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