Courts take step to begin more functions, no jury trials until August at the earliest

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley briefs reporters. Photo via Chief Justice Cheri Beasley

RALEIGH – North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley today laid out a new order that will see more functionality return to courthouses across the state. Beasley said that no jury trials will be held until August as the court system works to identify ways those trials can be conducted.

“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.”

Among the changes made in today’s order:

  • 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. 

Additionally, Beasley said 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. 

The orders also include measures to limit in-person contact between the public and clerks of court offices. Among those changes: 

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

The full emergency directives can be read here.