RALEIGH – Chief Justice Paul Newby issued a new order extending nine emergency directives for the state’s judicial branch for another 30 days.
In the order, Newby says he committed to the state’s constitutional mandate that courts shall be open, but that the Judicial Branch “must fulfill this mandate in ways that prioritize and protect the health and safety of judicial officials and employees and the public.”
“I continue to ask that local judicial officials and employees conduct trials and other proceedings and perform other courthouse functions with caution and with due regard for the COVID-19 situation in their respective judicial districts,” the statement continues.
The directives continued by Newby encourage local judicial officials to adopt appropriate safety precautions in addition to those mandated by the order. The emergency directives contained in the order are effective March 15, 2021, and expire on April 11, 2021.
Among the directives still in effect are instructions that perons likely exposed to COVID-19 should not enter a courthouse, use of remote proceedings when possible should continue, magistrates shall continue to perform marriage ceremonies, and each senior resident superior court judge shall, for each facility in his or her district, serve as or designate a COVID-19 coordinator.
Clerks of superior court are directed to ensure that filings may be submitted during normal business hours and that access to public records is provided, and clerks may at their discretion require that filings be submitted using a secure drop box to limit face-to-face interactions between staff and the public.
In addition, face coverings are required for everyone in a court facility while they are in common areas of the facility and when they are or may be within six feet of another person.
“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,” says Newby.
The full order and list of directives can be viewed here.