• Extensions and Modifications of Emergency Directives from the Chief Justice

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    Last night, I sat in a church parking lot, masked and socially distant, listening to live Christmas carols.  It is still hard to get my head around all the ways the pandemic is changing our day to day lives.  From smaller things like services in parking lots to larger things like the postponing of court proceedings across the state to  unimaginable things like saying a final goodbye to loved ones via FaceTime.  At the start of 2020, I am not sure anyone could have imagined this is how the year would end. But here we are.

    We have light at the end of the tunnel and seeing the roll out of the vaccine today brings much hope.  We also know that we have a long winter to go. Today, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court entered an order extending many of the emergency directives related to the pandemic. The order also revives Emergency Directive 1, which expired back in May.  It states that all superior court and district court proceedings (including proceedings before clerks) must be scheduled or rescheduled for a date no sooner than January 14, 2021 unless an exception applies.  The order lists the applicable exceptions.  It also modifies Emergency Directive 10 (halts future jury trials for 30 days) and Emergency Directive 18 (removes references to Section 4024 of the CARES Act related to evictions).

    Back in June, I created a quick reference guide to help keep track of these emergency directives.  The most recent version of the guide incorporates the Chief Justice’s order from today.  This updated guide along with all prior versions of it are available on my original blog post.  To obtain a copy of future versions as they become available, you can reference the original post or subscribe to the clerk of superior court electronic mailing list to receive an email when new versions are posted.

    The Chief Justice noted in her announcement about this most recent order that the postponement of court proceedings was necessary in part due to increases in cases among court officials.  It is a reminder of the risks these officials have borne since the start of this pandemic.  It has been a hard year for all of us, but especially for these officials and other essential workers.  Thank you to each of you for all that you have given this year to ensure that justice continues to be administered in North Carolina.  This is the last blog post for the year.  To all our readers, we hope you have a peaceful and safe holiday season.

    Meredith Smith joined the School of Government in 2013. Her work focuses on the areas of law where clerks of superior court exercise judicial authority.
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