New Emergency Orders Extend Deadlines in Criminal Cases

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Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered three emergency orders on Saturday affecting court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of the orders impact criminal cases. One extends the deadline for filing notices of appeal. The other extends the authorization for remote proceedings in Emergency Directive 3 and renews and modifies the provisions of Emergency Directive 7, which provides additional time to pay monies owed in a criminal or infraction case. (The third order stays eviction actions that currently are pending in the trial courts until June 21, 2020 and imposes other requirements related to eviction proceedings.)

Notice of appeal. In her order extending the deadline for filing notices of appeal, the Chief Justice noted the need to clarify the interplay between her earlier orders extending the time by which documents were due to be filed and the North Carolina Supreme Court’s order extending by 60 days all deadlines imposed by the Rules of Appellate Procedure that fell between March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020.

The Chief Justice’s May 30, 2020 order thus extends to June 30, 2020 the deadline for filing a notice of appeal in any matter in which the deadline to file a notice of appeal falls between March 13, 2020 and June 1, 2020.

Time to pay. On May 21, 2020, the Chief Justice entered an order (discussed here) extending deadlines in criminal cases. The May 21 order extended until the close of business on July 31, 2020 the deadline for filing documents and doing other acts that otherwise were due to be done between March 16, 2020 and July 31, 2020. The May 21 order further specified that it did not alter Emergency Directive 7, entered on May 1, 2020, which extended by 90 days the date by which payment must be made in certain criminal and infraction cases. Given this reference to Emergency Directive 7, it was not entirely clear whether the May 21 order extended the deadline for payment of monies owed in criminal cases beyond the extension afforded by the May 1 order.

The Chief Justice’s May 30, 2020 order extending and modifying several of her earlier directives resolves this ambiguity. The order renews a modified version of Emergency Directive 7, which again extends by 90 days the date by which payment must be made in certain criminal and infraction cases and imposes a temporary moratorium on the reporting of failures to comply. Here are the specifics:

  • Extended time to pay for judgments entered before April 6, 2020. If a judgment entered before April 6, 2020 required payment on or after April 6, 2020 and before or on June 29, 2020, the date by which payment must be made is extended by 90 days. Clerks are directed not to enter or report a failure to comply based on nonpayment during the 90-day extension period.
  • Temporary moratorium on reporting failures to comply. Clerks are directed not to enter or report, until after the expiration of the May 30, 2020 order, a failure to comply for a criminal or infraction case when the 40th day following non-payment falls on or after April 6, 2020 and before or on June 29, 2020.
  • Extended time to pay for judgments entered on or after April 6, 2020. For judgments entered on or after April 6, 2020 and before or on June 29, 2020 in a criminal or infraction case, the payment due date must be at least 90 days after the date of entry of the judgment or order. The installment plan set up fee of $20 under G.S. 7A-304(f) may not be assessed until after the due date has passed.

This directive does not extend the time to pay monies owed pursuant to a probationary sentence that is scheduled to end on or after May 31, 2020 and before or on June 29, 2020.

Remote proceedings. The Chief Justice’s May 30, 2020 order renews Emergency Directive 3, which authorizes judicial officials to conduct proceedings that include remote audio and video transmissions, regardless of whether remote proceedings are otherwise authorized by law. As before, the directive imposes several requirements for remote proceedings, which generally must “safeguard the constitutional rights of those persons involved. . . and preserve the integrity of the judicial process.”

Hat tip. As always, my understanding of the impact of the Chief Justice’s orders was enhanced by the legal eagles in the Administrative Office of the Court’s Office of General Counsel, who had summarized these orders and reported out to judicial officials by Sunday.

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