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:
- Will be conducted remotely through WebEx or other remote means;
- 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);
- 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
- 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.