The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Two attorneys self-quarantine as precaution


March 22, 2020

CLOVIS — Two local attorneys have self-quarantined following a court appearance in which a public defender reported experiencing flu-like symptoms, officials said.

"On Tuesday morning an attorney arrived at the courthouse and self-reported” his illness, said 9th Judicial District Court Executive Officer Kevin Spears in an email.

“As a precaution, Judge (Matt) Chandler immediately cancelled the hearing and advised the attorney to leave the courthouse and contact his supervisor for further instruction. All other hearings and personnel were relocated to a different courtroom. The incident was reported to (Curry) County and the courtroom was vacated for 24 hours, thoroughly cleaned and disinfected."

Maggie Shepard, a spokeswoman for New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender, said the ill attorney has since self-quarantined and is awaiting results from a COVID-19 test.

“There is no specific information that this employee was exposed to someone with the coronavirus,” Shepard said.

District Attorney Andrea Reeb said an assistant district attorney has also self-quarantined as a precaution. Reeb said the ADA is not experiencing any signs of illness and has not been tested for COVID-19.

The attorneys had met to discuss a plea agreement in Chandler’s courtroom. The public defender, according to Reeb, showed symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and had told prosecutors he’d recently been on a cruise.

Reeb said the prosecutor will work from home for the next few weeks, while monitoring her health.

Chandler declined comment.

Spears said “All court staff present indicated they avoided close contact with the individual,” and only the two attorneys have self-quarantined.

Shepard provided a coronavirus response plan from the public defender’s office that read, in part, “Employees who suspect possible exposure, are sick, are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, or have a household member who is exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus must not report to work and must immediately inform the Department of Health, their immediate supervisor, and (the public defenders office)."

New Mexico on Thursday had reported 35 positive tests for the coronavirus, none of them near eastern New Mexico. The closest reported COVID-19 cases to Clovis-Portales were two cases in Amarillo and three in Lubbock, as of Thursday.

Multiple cases of self-quarantine have been reported around the region.


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