New Order Further Closes State Court, Provides Alternative Measures to Parties and Counsel

Commercial Litigation COVID-19 Resources

A few days ago, we provided an update on court extensions and closures due to COVID-19.  With another week comes yet another update, this by way of an Order from Chief Justice Beasley.

Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-39(b)(2), Chief Justice Beasley has issued seven emergency directives which we have summarized below. The Order itself is not long and we highly encourage everyone to read it, to ensure your staff and firm are familiar with the changes it provides, and also strongly encourage you to make your clients aware of how this affects not only proceedings that may be pending, but their accessibility to our state courts for the next 30 if not 60 days.

Quick talking points on the Order:

  • Directive 1 – Subject to exceptions and the discretion of the local chief judge, “all superior court and district court proceedings, including proceedings before the clerks of superior court, must be scheduled or rescheduled for a date no sooner than 1 June 2020.”
  • Directive 2 – No one who could be spreading COVID-19 should be in any courthouse.
  • Directive 3 – Courts may conduct certain proceedings by remote audio/video transmissions.
  • Directive 4 – If you don’t have to be in the courthouse, don’t be there. Mail your filings.
  • Directive 5 – Notary requirements are relaxed for “any pleading, motion, petition, supporting affidavit, or other document of any kind to be filed” that normally has to be verified. “It shall be sufficient if the subscriber affirms the truth of the matter to be verified by an affirmation…” This directive relaxing a notary does not apply to wills to be probated, conveyances of real estate or any document not to be filed with the Court.
  • Directive 6 – Service satisfying N.C. R. Civ. P. 5 may be accomplished by email if the parties consent (does not affect Business Court service rules).
  • Directive 7 – Deadlines for payments due based on judgments in criminal or infraction cases are extended 90 days. 

Chief Justice Beasley’s Order expires May 1, but she wisely states she “fully expect[s] to extend these directives for an additional 30-day period” and directs court personnel (and all of us) to be prepared for such.

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