ORDER OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF NORTH CAROLINA
On 10 March 2020, Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina in response to the emerging public health threat posed by COVID-19. Since that time, the World Health Organization has designated the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has urged all North Carolinians to take steps to reduce the spread of infection.
Accordingly, I hereby determine and declare under N.C.G.S. § 7A-39(b)(2) that catastrophic conditions resulting from the public health threat posed by COVID-19 exist in all counties of this state.
Although the superior courts and district courts remain open, two emergency directives are necessary to reduce the spread of infection.
Emergency Directive 1
I order that all superior court and district court proceedings be scheduled or rescheduled for a date no sooner than 30 days from the issuance of this order, unless:
- the proceeding will be conducted remotely;
- the proceeding is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law (e.g., a first appearance or bond hearing, the appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant, a probation hearing, a probable cause hearing, etc.);
- the proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief (e.g., a domestic violence protection order, temporary restraining order, juvenile custody order, judicial consent to juvenile medical treatment order, civil commitment order, etc.); or
- the senior resident superior court judge, chief business court judge, or chief district court judge determines that the proceeding can be conducted under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.
This emergency directive does not apply to any proceeding in which a jury has already been empaneled.
This emergency directive does not apply to grand juries which have already been empaneled.
This emergency directive does not prohibit a judge or other judicial officer from exercising any in chambers or ex parte jurisdiction conferred by law upon that judge
or judicial officer, as provided by law.
Additionally, I encourage the superior courts and district courts to liberally grant additional accommodations to parties, witnesses, attorneys, and others with business before the courts who are at a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Emergency Directive 2
I further order that the clerks of superior court shall 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. A person who has likely been exposed to COVID-19 who has business before the courts shall contact the clerk of superior court’s office by telephone or other remote means, inform court personnel of the nature of his or her business before the court, and receive further instruction. For purposes of this order, a person who has likely been exposed to COVID-19 is defined as any person who:
- has traveled to China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, or Iran within the previous 14 days;
- has been directed to quarantine, isolate, or self-monitor;
- has been diagnosed with COVID-19; or
- resides with or has been in close contact with any person in the abovementioned categories.
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The directives contained in this order will take effect Monday, 16 March 2020.
This order may be extended in whole or in part for additional 30-day periods if necessary.
Issued this the 13th day of March, 2020.