Chief Justice Cheri Beasley

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley

North Carolina Judicial Branch Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order Sept. 15 extending emergency directives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order extends all unexpired Emergency Directives. While most have been extended for an additional 30 days, Emergency Directive 6, which authorizes service of certain documents by email, will expire on September 30.

“To win the battle against the spread of COVID-19, the Judicial Branch must remain vigilant and thorough in our preventative measures,” said Beasley. “The extension of these emergency directives is essential to returning our courthouse to full operation.”

A brief summary of the extended emergency directives are as follows:

Emergency Directive 2 – Clerks of superior court are required post a notice at the entrance to every court facility in their county directing that any person who has likely been exposed to COVID-19 should not enter the courthouse.

Emergency Directive 3 – Hearings and other court proceedings can be conducted remotely using audio or video conferencing.

Emergency Directive 4 – Courthouse access should be restricted to those who have business to conduct in the building.

Emergency Directive 5 – Allows for documents to be filed and sworn statements to be given without a notary.

Emergency Directive 6 – Service required by Rule 5 may be made electronically on a party or a party’s attorney. This emergency directive expires on September 30, 2020 because the modifications to G.S. 1A-1, Rule 5(b) in S.L. 2020-46 will go into effect on October 1, 2020.

Emergency Directive 8 – Magistrates must continue to perform marriages, although hours may be restricted and appointments may be required.

Emergency Directive 9 – Judicial officials should ensure compliance with social distancing and other public health guidance.

Emergency Directive 10 – No jury trials shall be convened for the next 30 days.

Emergency Directive 11 – Each senior resident superior court judges is required to designate a COVID-19 coordinator.

Emergency Directive 12 – Courts are required to enact specified public health precautions to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.

Emergency Directive 13 – COVID-19 coordinators must ensure that all sessions of court do not collectively result in an inability to socially distance and must make face coverings available to all Judicial Branch personnel assigned to courtrooms.

Emergency Directive 14 – Directs clerks of court to ensure court filings are accepted and that public records are accessible.

Emergency Directive 15 – Encourages court filing by mail and deems documents timely filed if they are received by mail within five business days of the due date.

Emergency Directive 18 – Landlords must file an affidavit confirming compliance with the Federal CARES Act in any residential eviction for nonpayment of rent.

Emergency Directive 20 – Despite the time limit in G.S. 42-28, allows additional time for clerks of superior court to schedule summary ejectment proceedings.

Emergency Directive 21 – With limited exceptions, requires a face covering to be worn by everyone entering a court facility.

Emergency Directive 22 – Senior resident superior court judges are required to submit plans for the resumption of jury trials no later than Sept. 30.

Jury trials have been postponed since the pandemic began. The order entered today prohibits the convening of jury trials before Oct. 15. Judges around the state continue to work with local officials and public health experts to finalize plans for the safe resumption of trials.

To view a list of previous orders from the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court of North Carolina, please visit the continuously updated Coronavirus (COVID-19) announcement page. The public is encouraged to visit NCcourts.gov to find answers to frequently asked questions before calling the local courthouse. Announcements from local counties about changes to court operations can be found on the county page as well as the closings and advisories page. The public may also visit the Judicial Branch Facebook page and Twitter account to access information related to the coronavirus health concern.

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