New COVID-19 Orders from Chief Justice Beasley on Civil Court Operations

By PJ Puryear

Chief Justice Beasley just rolled out her newest orders on the courts.

You can read about them here, but below are the highlights that should be of interest to North Carolina litigators:

Filing, Deadlines, and Statutes of Limitation/Repose

  • 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.
  • Filings by mail are encouraged and clerks may require filings be dropped off rather than submitted face-to-face at a service counter as well as reduce hours/require appointments.
  • To encourage filing by mail, a 5-day grace period will be provided for documents delivered by mail.

Court is open for business, but:

  • 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.
  • Anyone coming to court is encouraged to wear a face covering, stay six feet apart, and wash their hands frequently.

No Jury Trials until August

  • 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.

As always, check the North Carolina Judicial Branch COVID-19 Announcements page for relevant orders and announcements, and check your local county’s page for specific local rules and announcements.