North Carolina Courts and Coronavirus Closures

Posted by Josh Valentine | Mar 24, 2020

The North Carolina Court System is “largely closed,” but will remain open for limited activity in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Like many other businesses and government agencies, the courts have taken action to slow the spread of COVID-19 among the public and employees. Chief Justice Beasley entered emergency orders that will keep the courts open but limit court proceedings.

If you have any questions about an upcoming court hearing or if you need emergency help with a family court matter talk to your North Carolina family law attorney about your rights and options.  

Rescheduling Court Hearings

Under the Chief Justice's emergency directives are to schedule or reschedule all superior court and district court proceedings for a date no sooner than after April 16, 2020. The courts have also extended the filing deadlines. These dates may be subject to change, so stay in contact with your attorney to make sure you know when you may need to appear in court or when you should stay home. 

Even if you have a court date where the court requires an in-person appearance, the court has instructed: “any person who has likely been exposed to COVID-19 not to enter the courthouse.” Any person with likely exposure shall contact the court clerk by telephone or other remote means and wait for further instruction. This is not limited to persons who show symptoms of COVID-19, but specifically includes a person who “has likely been exposed to COVID-19.”

Emergency Matters and Access to the Courts 

Certain court proceedings may be scheduled prior to April 16, 2020, including where the court proceeding: 

  1. Will be conducted remotely through WebEx or other remote means; 
  2. Is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law (such as a bond hearing, appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant, probation hearing, or probable cause hearing); 
  3. Is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief, including a domestic violence protection order, temporary restraining order, juvenile custody order, judicial consent to juvenile medical treatment order, or civil commitment order; or 
  4. The judge determines that the proceeding can be conducted under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants. 

The court also encourages using remote technology for ongoing hearings, whenever possible. WebEx is a web conferencing system that allows individuals to participate in hearings remotely. Hearings can be accessed by telephone through a toll-free number and access code, or through a computer with audio/visual capabilities. 

Web conferencing, video conferencing, and phone access can allow parties to a court hearing to participate without an in-person appearance. Remote access will allow the courts to hear matters, including criminal and family law matters, without the risk of exposure of COVID-19.

Our Law Firm is Open to Help Our Community

At Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, we will remain available to help our community in these difficult times. We are available to help you and your family by phone, online, or using whatever means of communication are necessary in your time of need. If you need help with emergency custody or family law proceedings, contact us today for a consultation.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar