Chief Justice Beasley Orders New Extension of Court System Deadlines Until June 1, 2020

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order today further extending filing and other court-related deadlines. The order states that documents due to be filed from March 16 to June 1 will be deemed timely filed if received before the close of business on June 1, 2020, and that any actions required to be done during that time can also be postponed until June 1, 2020. The order also includes a stay of pending bail bond forfeiture proceedings. This decision comes as the court system continues work to curtail operations in light of the growing exigent circumstances related to the spread of COVID-19.

“Our continued priority is the safety of the public and the safety of our court personnel,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Delaying filing and other deadlines reduces the number of people who must come into our county courthouses every day. We are monitoring the guidance of public health officials and our team is working around the clock to help local officials move cases forward in a way that is safe and respects the rights and liberties of everyone who depends on us.”

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has taken several other emergency steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus:

  • On April 2, Chief Justice Beasley ordered court proceedings postponed until June 1, 2020
  • On March 27, the Supreme Court of North Carolina orderedan extension on all appellate court deadlines for 60 days
  • On March 19, Chief Justice Beasley issued an additional emergency stepthat extended deadlines in the trial courts until April 17, 2020
  • On March 15, Chief Justice Beasley issued a memoproviding guidance to local judges, clerks, and district attorneys as they worked to implement earlier directives. The memo allowed for the public and court personnel to practice social distancing and other preventative measures recommended by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control
  • On March 13, Chief Justice Beasley issued two emergency directivespostponing most cases in superior and district courts for 30 days and instructing local officials to take steps to limit the risk of exposure in courthouses

In light of this rapidly evolving public health situation, the Judicial Branch will provide continuously updated information on our website, NCcourts.gov. The public is encouraged to visit NCcourts.gov as a first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse.  If you have a question about your court case, please first view the county page in which the case is filed for any local announcements, as well as the closings and advisories page, then, if needed, contact the clerk of superior court office before you go to the courthouse. The public may also visit the Judicial Branch Facebook page and Twitter account to access information related to the coronavirus health concern.

UPDATE-Order Concerning Court Operations For April 6-May 25 Criminal Sessions

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
IN THE GENERAL COURT OF JUSTICE SUPERIOR COURT DIVISION

COUNTY OF BUNCOMBE

IN THE MATTER OF THE OPERATION OF THE SUPERIOR COURT DIVISION IN JUDICIAL DISTRICT 28

ORDER CONCERNING COURT OPERATIONS FOR THE April 6th through May 25, 2020 CRIMINAL SESSIONS

This matter came on before Alan Z. Thornburg, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, in the exercise of the Court’s in-chambers jurisdiction.  The undersigned judge makes the following order subject to orders previously entered by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

  1. On March 13, 2020, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered an order pursuant to N. C. Gen. Stat. 7A-39(b)(2) determining that catastrophic conditions resulting from a public health threat posed by COVID-19 exist in all counties of this state. That order was updated pursuant to an order issued by the Chief Justice dated March 19, 2020, further extending deadlines.
  2. On March 27, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 121 directing all individuals in the state to stay in their place of residence subject to limited exceptions. North Carolina’s courts are a critical government function and are therefore exempt from the order. Nevertheless, the courts are directed, to the extent practicable, to maintain social distancing requirements, including “facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible.”
  3. Pursuant to the Chief Justice’s most recently updated order of April 3, 2020, all superior court proceedings shall be scheduled or rescheduled for a date no sooner than June 1, 2020.
  4. The Chief Justice’s original order of March 13, 2020, order of March 19, 2020, and order of April 3, 2020, (collectively “orders”) permit proceedings to be held when “the proceeding will be conducted remotely.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 1.
  5. The Chief Justice’s orders permit proceedings when “the proceeding is necessary to preserve the right of due process of law.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 2.
  6. The Chief Justice’s orders permit proceedings when “the proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 3.
  7. Finally, the Chief Justice’s orders permit proceedings when the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge “determines that the proceeding can be conducted under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 4.
  8. Chief Justice Beasley further ordered the Clerk of Superior Court to post notices on the doors at all courthouse entrances directing persons who have likely been exposed to COVID-19 not to enter the courthouse.
  9. The District Attorney will prepare calendars for the each of the weeks of April 6, April 13, April 20, April 27, May 4, May 11, May 18, and May 25, 2020. Some defendants on the calendars will be in custody.
  10. Each weekly session of court must be held for some cases to preserve the right of due process of law and the undersigned Judge believes by implementing certain measures, including scheduling and social distancing, the Court can conduct these proceedings under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.

 

Pursuant to the provisions of the orders entered by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, it is hereby ordered for the purposes of the criminal calendars of April 6, April 13, April 20, April 27, May 4, May 11, May 18, and May 25, 2020, in Buncombe County that:

  1. No trials will be conducted during these sessions of court and no petit jurors will report or be brought to the courthouse.
  2. No calendar call will be held for these sessions of court.
  3. Certain matters involving defendants held in the Buncombe County Jail may be conducted remotely whenever possible with the defendant’s consent.
  4. Criminal motions and pleas, including first appearances and bond hearings, as well as probation matters, will be conducted beginning at 10:00 a.m. on the Monday of each session and continuing throughout the week on a staggered schedule in District Court 1A courtroom for matters given a scheduled time slot by the Assistant District Attorney. Attorneys are directed to contact the Assistant District Attorney assigned to your case to schedule a time to appear in court.
  5. The Court has been advised that the District Attorney will consider requests by attorneys to add matters to the published calendar for disposition.
  6. If defendants are physically present in the courtroom or holding area, defendants shall be assigned a place to sit while awaiting their hearing by the courtroom officers so that appropriate social distancing (at least six feet from other individuals including their attorneys) may be maintained.
  7. Court personnel shall maintain appropriate social distancing (at least six feet apart) while at their work stations.
  8. Any other individuals in the courtroom shall maintain appropriate social distancing (at least six feet apart).
  9. Hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and gloves will be provided in the courtroom and shall be utilized by all individuals handling documents.
  10. District Court 1A courtroom used for these sessions of court is sufficiently large to enable social distancing to be effectively used for all participants.
  11. Attorneys for defendants who have matters on the calendars that need to be heard to protect the rights of the defendants should contact the district attorney’s office to coordinate scheduling of these matters.
  12. Continuances will be freely given for reasons related to concerns over the Coronavirus and any such motions to continue shall be communicated to the Assistant District Attorney assigned to that case.
  13. No individual who has been exposed to COVID-19, is otherwise banned from the courthouse by virtue of Chief Justice Beasley’s order or is expressing symptoms consistent with the Coronavirus, shall be required to be present in court and shall not enter the courthouse. Any defendant who meets these requirements shall contact his or her probation officer or attorney to advise them of their exposure and/or banned status prior to the hearing.
  14. Nothing in this Order conflicts with or is inconsistent with the Buncombe County “Declaration of a Local State of Emergency Stay Home – Stay Safe” effective March 26, 2020, as this order is consistent with the operations of the state courts as an essential government function pursuant to Article I, Section 18 of the North Carolina Constitution.
  15. Nothing in this order conflicts with or is inconsistent with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 121.
  16. This order and its provisions are subject to being amended or superseded.

This the 3rd day of April, 2020.

 

_____________________________________

Alan Z. Thornburg

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge

UPDATE-Order Concerning Court Operations For April 6-May 26 Civil Sessions

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
IN THE GENERAL COURT OF JUSTICE SUPERIOR COURT DIVISION

COUNTY OF BUNCOMBE

IN THE MATTER OF THE OPERATION OF THE SUPERIOR COURT DIVISION IN JUDICIAL DISTRICT 28

ORDER CONCERNING COURT OPERATIONS FOR THE April 6th through May 25, 2020 CIVIL SESSIONS

This matter comes on before Alan Z. Thornburg, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, in the exercise of the Court’s in chambers jurisdiction.  The undersigned judge makes the following order subject to an order previously entered by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

  1. On March 13, 2020, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley entered an order pursuant to N. C. Gen. Stat. 7A-39(b)(2) determining that catastrophic conditions resulting from a public health threat posed by COVID-19 exist in all counties of this state. That order was updated pursuant to an order issued by the Chief Justice dated March 19, 2020, further extending deadlines.
  2. On March 27, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 121 directing all individuals in the state to stay in their place of residence subject to limited exceptions. North Carolina’s courts are a critical government function and are therefore exempt from the order. Nevertheless, the courts are directed, to the extent practicable, to maintain social distancing requirements, including “facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible.”
  3. Pursuant to the Chief Justice’s most recently updated order of April 3, 2020, all superior court proceedings shall be scheduled or rescheduled for a date no sooner than June 1, 2020.
  4. The Chief Justice’s original order of March 13, 2020, order of March 19, 2020, and order of April 3, 2020, (collectively “orders”) permit proceedings to be held when “the proceeding will be conducted remotely.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 1.
  5. The Chief Justice’s orders permit proceedings when “the proceeding is necessary to preserve the right of due process of law.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 2.
  6. The Chief Justice’s orders permit proceedings when “the proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 3.
  7. Finally, the Chief Justice’s orders permit proceedings when the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge “determines that the proceeding can be conducted under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.” Emergency Directive 1, Exception 4.
  8. Chief Justice Beasley further ordered the Clerk of Superior Court to post notices on the doors at all courthouse entrances directing persons who have likely been exposed to COVID-19 not to enter the courthouse.

Pursuant to the provisions of the orders entered by Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, it is hereby ordered for the purposes of the April 6, April 13, April 20, April 27, May 4, May 11, May 18, and May 25, 2020, Civil Calendars in Buncombe County that:

  1. All trials will be continued to a future date no sooner than June 1, 2020, to be determined by counsel for the parties and the Trial Court Coordinator Marc Shimberg.
  2. No calendar call will be held for these sessions of court.
  3. All motions on the calendars will be heard either by conference call or remotely where consented to by all parties. If the parties request that the remote proceedings be recorded, the presiding judge and clerk will be present in District Court 1A courtroom (or equally equipped courtroom) and approved courtroom recording equipment will be utilized.  Mr. Shimberg will contact the parties to make the necessary arrangements for scheduling these hearings. In accordance with Section 18 of Article I of the Constitution of North Carolina these proceedings are open to the public.  Any individual interested in accessing the proceedings may do so by contacting the Trial Court Administrator for a link to the proceedings.
  4. If the parties cannot agree to having the matter heard by conference call or remotely, the matter will be rescheduled by the Trial Court Administrator or, if the presiding judge believes that the matter can be heard safely utilizing social distancing and the calendaring of only one motion at a particular time period, the matter may be heard at the originally-scheduled time. Any individuals in the courtroom shall maintain appropriate social distancing (at least six feet apart).
  5. Hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and gloves will be provided in the courtroom and shall be utilized by all individuals handling documents.
  6. Any party or attorney who is expressing symptoms of the coronavirus or believes that he/she has been exposed to COVID-19, shall contact Marc Shimberg for further instructions.
  7. No individual who has been exposed to COVID-19, is otherwise banned from the courthouse by virtue of Chief Justice Beasley’s order or is expressing symptoms consistent with the Coronavirus shall be required to be present in court and shall not enter the courthouse.
  8. Nothing in this Order conflicts with or is inconsistent with the Buncombe County “Declaration of a Local State of Emergency Stay Home – Stay Safe” effective March 26, 2020, as this order is consistent with the operations of the state courts as an essential government function pursuant to Article I, Section 18 of the North Carolina Constitution.
  9. Nothing in this order conflicts with or is inconsistent with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 121.

This the 3rd day of April, 2020.

_____________________________________

Alan Z. Thornburg

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge

Chief Justice Beasley Issues Order Postponing Court Proceedings Until June 1, 2020

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order on April 2, 2020, containing seven emergency directives. The order:

  • Postpones court proceedings for a second time to June 1, 2020
  • Continues to direct clerks of court to post notices  at court facilities discouraging entry by those infected with COVID-19
  • Authorizes court proceedings to be conducted by remote audio and video transmissions
  • Directs attorneys and others without business before the court to avoid court facilities
  • Allows use of a sworn statement under penalty of perjury rather than notarization for court filings and oaths
  • Allows service of court documents by email
  • Extends the deadline for payment of most fines and fees by 90 days and directs clerks not to report failures to pay court debt to the DMV.
  • “Judicial officials and court personnel statewide are going above and beyond to serve the public during this health emergency,” said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. “My number one priority is to protect them and the public by limiting gatherings and foot traffic in our county courthouses, while making sure our courts stay available to serve the public.”

The April 2 order follows Governor Roy Cooper issuance of Executive Order 121 on March 27, 2020, directing all individuals in the state to stay in their place of residence subject to limited exceptions. North Carolina’s courts are a critical government function and are therefore exempt from the Order. Nevertheless, the courts are directed, to the extent practicable, to maintain social distancing requirements, including “facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible.”

With North Carolina’s COVID-19 infections expected to peak in late April, it is imperative that court operations remain as limited as possible through the next two months. Use of telecourt functions for a wider range of hearings will alleviate the growing backlog in the court system and ensure that courts continue protecting constitutional rights and the safety of North Carolina’s most vulnerable people. Efforts to further leverage technology, including through electronic filing and additional online services continue to move forward as well.

The Chief Justice’s order also extends the time for payment for court debts in traffic and criminal cases for 90 days and suspends reporting of failures to pay to the DMV.

“We want people to know that they do not need to come to the courthouse right now to pay a traffic ticket,” said the Chief Justice. “Deadlines for those payments have been extended and licenses will not be suspended until this emergency passes. We want people staying at home and staying safe.”

Traffic tickets and some other fees can still be paid at NCcourts.gov. The public can also sign up there for text reminders for rescheduled court dates.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has taken several other emergency steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus:

  • On March 13, Chief Justice Beasley issued two emergency directives postponing most cases in superior and district courts for 30 days and instructing local officials to take steps to limit the risk of exposure in courthouses
  • On March 15, 2020, Chief Justice Beasley issued a memo providing guidance to local judges, clerks, and district attorneys as they worked to implement earlier directives. The memo allowed for the public and court personnel to practice social distancing and other preventative measures recommended by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control
  • Chief Justice Beasley issued an additional emergency step on March 19, 2020, when she issued an order that extended deadlines in the trial courts until April 17, 2020
    On March 27, the Supreme Court of North Carolina ordered an extension on all appellate court deadlines for 60 days.
  • In light of this rapidly evolving public health situation, the Judicial Branch will provide continuously updated information on our website, NCcourts.gov. The public is encouraged to visit NCcourts.gov as a first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse.  If you have a question about your court case, please first view the county page in which the case is filed for any local announcements, as well as the closings and advisories page, then, if needed, contact the clerk of superior court office before you go to the courthouse. The public may also visit the Judicial Branch Facebook page and Twitter account to access information related to the coronavirus health concern.

Online court services are available for handling some court business, including citation services, paying your ticket, court payments, signing up for court date notifications and reminders, eFiling court documents for certain courts and case types, and more.