Among the Chief Justice’s early emergency directives and orders to address court operations in light of the COVID-19 outbreak were extensions for the time for paying monies owed in criminal cases. Those directives, which extended the time for doing certain acts in criminal cases and directed clerks to delay the entry of reports of failures to comply, were extended and modified in subsequent orders. The upshot was that defendants ordered to pay sums that would have resulted in entry of a “failure to comply” and the assessment of additional costs (and, in Chapter 20 cases, a report to DMV that would trigger a license revocation) had until July 31, 2020 to pay monies owed without incurring those consequences. That date passed last Friday, so clerks now are entering failures to comply, assessing the $50 in costs and reporting the entry to DMV in Chapter 20 cases.
The Chief Justice entered two new emergency directives last week, requiring people in court facilities to wear face coverings and directing senior resident superior court judges to craft a plan for jury trials to resume in the fall. Face coverings. Face coverings have been required in most public spaces since June 26, 2020 pursuant to … Read more
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.)
This post was updated on May 22, 2020 to include discussion of a May 21, 2020 order extending deadlines in criminal cases and a May 14, 2020 order from the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered an order today imposing eight new emergency directives (Directives 9 -16) to address court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chief Justice entered a separate order extending time for documents to be filed and acts due to be done in criminal cases in the trial courts.
In regular times, North Carolina’s state courthouses are high traffic venues, filled with employees, attorneys, media, law enforcement officers, and members of the public. Much of the work that transpires in these venues takes place through in-person interactions. Litigants file pleadings and other paperwork with the clerk’s office. Attorneys meet with clients, witnesses, law enforcement officers, and victims to explain proceedings, negotiate pleas, discuss schedules, and prepare for hearings and trials. Reporters often are on-hand to report on cases, activities, and trends of interest. Some law enforcement officers appear to testify; others are there to provide security. And then there is the public. Hundreds of defendants may appear on any given criminal district court docket. Many of them are accompanied by friends or family members. Some defendants seek to have an attorney appointed; others ask for a continuance. Some plead guilty in open court, and others submit a waiver of appearance, admission of guilt, and pay fines and costs to the clerk to resolve outstanding charges. Victims also appear to observe the disposition of a criminal cases in which they were harmed. Many of these people–defendants, friends, family, and victims alike–may spend hours sitting shoulder to shoulder in a crowded courtroom before completing their business before the court.
The courthouse scene has been dramatically different and has involved significantly fewer in-person interactions in the weeks since Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered her first COVID-19 emergency directive on March 13, 2020. While courts have remained opened, and judges have continued to hear emergency and time-sensitive matters, regular sessions of criminal court have largely ceased in most districts. Most criminal cases have been continued until June 1, 2020 or later pursuant to the Chief Justice’s directives. With June 1 just a few weeks away and with the Governor slowly easing COVID-19 restrictions, court officials are now considering how they can resume some of their previous in-court activities while ensuring the safety of everyone present in the courthouse—from employees to the public.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered an order on Friday, May 1, modifying and extending eight emergency directives previously issued on April 2 and April 16, 2020. The Chief Justice’s April 2 order, in which noted that she fully expected to extend its directives for an additional 30-day period and that judicial system stakeholders should plan for the directives to last through May, presaged the current one. Emergency orders issued by the Chief Justice pursuant to G.S. 7A-39(b)(2) initially may endure for no more than thirty days, but may be extended for additional 30-day periods. Friday’s order was effective immediately and expires on May 30, 2020.
As before, three of the emergency directives are particularly significant in criminal cases.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered an order yesterday extending until June 1, 2020 the time and periods of limitations for documents and papers due to be filed and acts due to be done in the trial courts. The Chief Justice previously had extended to April 17, 2020 the deadline for filings, periods of limitation and other acts. She further extended those deadlines based on predictions that late April “may be the apex of the [COVID-19] outbreak in North Carolina.”
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered an order last Thursday, April 2, 2020, imposing emergency directives that were immediately effective and that affect criminal cases.
Legal authority. The Chief Justice’s order was entered pursuant to G.S. 7A-39(b)(2), which permits the Chief Justice, after determining or declaring that catastrophic conditions exist in one or more counties of the state, to issue emergency directives necessary to ensure the continuing operation of essential trial or appellate court functions. Such directives are effective notwithstanding any other provision of law.
Executive Order 118. Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 on Tuesday, directing bars to close and restricting restaurants to selling food only for carry-out, drive through, delivery, and onsite consumption in outdoor seating areas, subject to mass gathering seating restrictions. Restaurants are broadly defined to include permitted food establishments, cafeterias, food halls, dining halls, food … Read more
On Friday, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered two emergency directives to reduce the spread of infection from COVID-19. On Saturday, Governor Roy Cooper entered an executive order prohibiting mass gatherings and ordering the statewide closure of public schools.