Chief Justice Newby ends jury trial prohibition, issues new directives

Chief Justice Paul Newby

RALEIGH – Chief Justice Paul Newby made several changes to the judicial branch’s emergency directives on Thursday, ending eight directives last issued by former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley including the prohibition on jury trials.

An email from the branch said Newby allowed certain orders to expire “because they concern matters best decided at the local level.”

“Today’s order allows local courthouse leadership, who assess the threat of COVID-19 every day, to tailor preventative measures to meet their specific local challenges,” Chief Justice Newby said. “But they are not alone in this fight. I have requested that the Governor prioritize our court personnel in the COVID-19 vaccination schedule so we can fulfill our constitutional ‘open courts’ mandate to provide equal justice to all in a timely manner.”

Many of the eliminated or modified directives appear aimed at giving local court officers more flexibility in the day-to-day operation of courthouses. 

“I urge local judicial officials to exercise their own authority to grant additional relief and accommodations as necessary to protect courthouse personnel and the public while honoring the judicial branch’s commitment to open courts and the prompt administration of impartial justice,” part of the order reads.