If you were due in court during the next 30 days, you got a reprieve.
North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, on Friday, March 13, directed local courts to postpone most cases in district and superior courts for at least 30 days beginning on Monday, March 16.
In a press release from the North Carolina Judicial Branch Beasley stated, “We must be proactive in taking steps to prioritize the health and safety of our fellow North Carolinians while also maintaining the integrity of our judicial system. Today’s order will allow us to drastically reduce the exposure caused by crowded sessions of court, which often bring hundreds of people at a time into our courthouses.”
The announcement states that the superior courts, district courts and courthouses remain open. As the courts work to postpone thousands of cases, court officials will notify parties and their attorneys of new hearing and trial dates.
According to the press release court proceedings can take place if:
“• The proceeding will be conducted remotely;
“• The proceeding is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law (e.g., a first appearance or bond hearing, the appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant, a probation hearing, a probable cause hearing, etc.);
“• The proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief (e.g., a domestic violence protection order, temporary restraining order, juvenile custody order, judicial consent to juvenile medical treatment order, civil commitment order, etc.); or
“• The senior resident superior court judge, chief business court judge, or chief district court judge determines that the proceeding can be conducted under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.”
The directive also does not apply to any proceeding where the jury has already been empaneled or to any grand juries already empaneled.
Courts are also asked to “grant additional accommodations” to parties, witnesses, attorneys and others who are at high risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
Beasley also directed all counties to post notices on all court facilities stating that any person who has likely been exposed to Covid-19 to not enter the courthouse. She stated, “Any person who has likely been exposed and has business before the courts should contact the clerk of superior court’s office by telephone or other remote means for further instruction.”
The notice states, “The Judicial Branch will be providing continuous updated information and answers to frequently asked questions on our website. The public is encouraged to visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates page at https://www.nccourts.gov as first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse. Online court services are available for handling some court business, including citation services, paying your ticket, court payments, signing up for court date notifications and reminders, e-filing court documents for certain courts and case types, and more.”