UPDATE–Chief Justice Beasley Issues New Emergency Orders Staying Evictions and Extending Filing Deadlines

 Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has entered three additional emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The orders extend several existing emergency directivesextend the time for filing a notice of appealstay all pending evictions, and create a new mediation program for evictions.

“In light of the executive order entered today by Governor Cooper, I have issued an order staying all pending evictions,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “I am hopeful that the newly created mediation program will assist landlords and tenants in crafting repayment plans that might help avoid eviction altogether and I am so grateful to the mediators who agreed to do this work for free while we secure other funding for the program.”

The new emergency directives bring all pending evictions in the trial courts to a halt until June 21, the same period specified in Governor Cooper’s order. The Chief Justice’s emergency directive also instructs that sheriffs are not required to execute pending writs of possession until the end of June.

The Administrative Office of the Courts will be required to create and disseminate an affidavit that landlords must file in pending evictions to certify that the property is not subject to the federal moratorium on evictions imposed by the CARES Act. That moratorium continues in effect until late July.

The Chief Justice also announced the creation of a new mediation program specific to summary ejectments, the most common form of eviction proceeding for residential tenants. The program will be conducted in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina. The organization has agreed to recruit and train mediators who will serve pro bono to help to settle pending evictions for low-income tenants.

In addition to the order regarding eviction proceedings, Chief Justice Beasley also entered an order today extending the deadline for filing a notice of appeal to June 30. The extension applies to any case in which the deadline for appeal fell between March 16 and June 1. There had been some confusion about whether such deadlines were governed by the Chief Justice’s prior deadline extension orders or by the Supreme Court’s extension of deadlines imposed under the Rules of Appellate Procedure. The new order was entered in an effort to clear any ambiguity.

The final order entered today extends seven of the initial emergency directives issued by the Chief Justice. The order does not extend the emergency directive that had required the rescheduling of most trial court hearings. The extended directives will allow the trial courts to continue using remote technology to conduct hearings and screen entrants to courthouses for symptoms of COVID-19. The emergency directives also allow some documents to be served by email, waive notary requirements, and require magistrates to continue performing marriages statewide.

For a list of 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.

Buncombe County Update Today Features Local Judicial Officials

Buncombe County will be providing a Community Update today at 2:30pm via Facebook Live @Buncombegov. The Spanish version will be aired via Facebook Live @BCHHS. Speakers include:

·         Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, Interim Public Health Director and Medical Director for Buncombe County

·         Dr. William Hathaway, Chief Medical Officer for Mission Hospital

·         Calvin Hill, Chief District Court Judge

·         Alan Thornburg, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge

·         Todd Williams, District Attorney for Buncombe County

·         Fletcher Tove, Public Health Preparedness Director

Please send your questions to HHSPIO@buncombecounty.org by 12:30 pm. We will try to address the most frequently asked questions during the update.

 

Thank You,

 

signature_1954660233 Brandon Romstadt

Health & Human Services

Communications 

p. (828) 250-5744  c. (828) 337-7517

35 Woodfin Street – Asheville, NC 28801

Respect. Honesty. Integrity. Collaboration. Equity.

 

 

Follow Buncombe County Health and Human Services on Facebook

UPDATE–Chief Justice Beasley Issues New Order and Emergency Directives Expanding North Carolina Court Operations

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley today issued new emergency orders about court operations across North Carolina. The orders extend some filing deadlines, postpone jury trials, and require in-person court operations to take place with some defined restrictions to ensure safety protocols like social distancing and routine cleaning take place.

“Court is going to look different for a while. Dockets will be smaller. Cases will be heard online. We’re going to have to socially distance in the courthouse,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “North Carolinians are resilient and resourceful, and we approach our challenges with a spirit of cooperation and innovation that I know will carry us through the challenging days ahead.”

Under the orders entered today, some deadlines for filings and other required actions have been extended to July 31.

  • Filing deadlines for criminal matters are extended until July 31.
  • Filings due pursuant to statutes of limitation or repose are extended until July 31.
  • Filings and actions due in civil matters that had been previously extended are due June 1.

The Chief Justice has also placed a number of restrictions on in-person proceedings to avoid crowded courtrooms and allow for social distancing:

  • No session of court may be scheduled if it would result in the public being crowded into courtrooms or waiting in close proximity without social distancing.
  • Senior Resident Superior Court Judges are directed to have courtroom seating and all areas where lines form marked with six-foot intervals.
  • They must also ensure that public areas of the courthouse are cleaned throughout the day and that hand sanitizer is provided at every entrance and exit.

Local courts are required to have seating and waiting areas clearly marked in six-foot intervals, establish maximum occupancies for courtrooms, and ensure that hand sanitizer and cleaning services are provided. Many of these steps will require cooperation and support from county governments who own and manage the court facilities.

The Chief Justice also ordered that no jury trials will be held until August while the court system works to identify alternatives to allow those trials to be safely conducted.

  • Jury trials are postponed through at least the end of July.
  • Senior Resident Superior Court Judges are also directed to assess local court facilities to determine whether juries can be convened with social distancing. If not, they must secure alternate facilities for jury trials.

The orders also include several measures to limit in-person contact between the public and the staff of local clerk of court offices. Filings by mail are encouraged and clerks may require filings be dropped off rather than submitted face-to-face at a service counter. Access to public records must be provided, but clerks may require appointments and limit hours. To encourage filing by mail, a 5-day grace period will be provided for documents delivered by mail.

  • Encourage filings by mail
  • Grace period of 5 business days for filings submitted by mail
  • Clerks must accept filings and provide access to records during business hours
  • May use a secure, physical drop box for filings
  • May require appointments and limit hours for public access

In addition, the Supreme Court of North Carolina entered an order on May 14 that made changes to several rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Court calendars may be published with less advanced notice.
  • Attorneys may designate additional secured leave from court.
  • Judges will receive continuing education credit for online courses.

Information about specific county operations is available on the court system’s website at NCcourts.gov. The public can use online tools on the website to check for upcoming court dates, sign up for court date reminders, and pay or dismiss traffic tickets.

For a list of 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.

UPDATE-Chief Justice Beasley Extends Emergency Directives Until May 30

North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued an order to extend the effect of previously issued emergency directives until May 30, 2020. By law, the Chief Justice’s emergency directives expire after 30 days unless renewed. The order also eliminates a consent requirement that had made it difficult for courts to schedule remote hearings using teleconference technology.

On April 2, the Chief Justice entered an order containing seven emergency directives that postponed most in-person court hearings until June 1, broadened the court system’s ability to use technology and stopped driver’s license suspensions for nonpayment of court fines. The latest order extends the effect of those directives through the month of May.

“We continue to take steps to increase the services we can safely provide to the public,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “While our task force is hard at work developing plans for the months ahead, it’s important that we remain vigilant about protecting the health and safety of everyone in our courthouses.”

For a list of 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.

 

 

Judicial Branch COVID–19 Task Force

MEMORANDUM

TO:            Judicial Branch Employees

FROM:        Chief Justice Cheri Beasley
NCAOC Director McKinley Wooten, Jr.

DATE:         April 30, 2020

SUBJECT:    Judicial Branch COVID–19 Task Force

The last six weeks have seen unprecedented challenges for our Judicial Branch. We want to extend our deepest thanks to each of you for the fortitude you have shown. Your commitment is truly inspiring.

We have been closely monitoring the guidance of public health officials as we think about our path forward. Last week, Governor Cooper announced a graduated plan for lifting restrictions on mass gatherings and reopening North Carolina’s businesses. That plan indicates that we must continue to exercise social distancing and limit the gathering of large groups, particularly in public places, well into the summer.

It is clear that we will not be in a position to resume normal functioning of our court system for at least several months, and possibly into the fall. However, we also know that we cannot continue indefinitely with so many of our court functions frozen in time. We must begin to plan to provide a greater level of service to the public while still protecting the health and safety of all who work in and visit our county courthouses.

To assist in developing those plans, we have formed the COVID–19 Task Force for the Judicial Branch, co-chaired by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Don Bridges and Chief District Court Judge Jay Corpening. Please join us in thanking them for their committed service and willingness to lead in this difficult time. The Task Force will work with the conferences and associations within the branch to put forward recommendations for future emergency directives, policy changes, and best practices to move our court system forward.

We know you are anxious to begin planning court sessions for June. At this time, we do not believe it will be possible to safely convene jury trials or high-volume court sessions that would bring large crowds to courthouses during the month of June and would encourage you to plan accordingly. Rotation of superior court judges will be suspended for the fall term and all superior court judges will be assigned to their home districts. Additionally, knowing that it would not be possible for our court system to absorb 10 weeks of filings on a single day, we have asked the task force to formulate recommendations for spreading out those court filings and deadlines. We will continue to share updates from the work of the task force as we move through the month of May.

Again, we extend our deep gratitude for all that you do in service to the people of North Carolina. Stay safe and well!

Members of the Judicial Branch COVID–19 Task Force

  • Don Bridges, Co-Chair, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, Cleveland and Lincoln Counties
  • Jay Corpening, Co-Chair, Chief District Court Judge, New Hanover and Pender Counties
  • Wayland Sermons, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge; Beaufort, Hyde, Martin, Washington, and Tyrrell Counties
  • Teresa Vincent, Chief District Court Judge, Guilford County
  • Billy West, District Attorney, Cumberland County
  • Robert Evans, District Attorney; Nash, Edgecombe, and Wilson Counties
  • Marsha Johnson, Clerk of Superior Court, Harnett County
  • Elisa Chinn-Gary, Clerk of Superior Court, Mecklenburg County
  • Kinsley Craig, Trial Court Administrator, Cleveland and Lincoln Counties
  • Kellie Myers, Trial Court Administrator, Wake County
  • Jason Cheek, Magistrate, Davidson County
  • Jennifer Harjo, Public Defender, New Hanover and Pender Counties
  • John M. McCabe, Attorney, Wake County
  • J. Wade Harrison, Attorney, Alamance and Guilford Counties
  • Patrick Benton Weede, Attorney, Wake County
  • JD Keister, Attorney, Wake County