Georgia’s statewide judicial emergency to be extended to June 12

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Georgia’s statewide judicial emergency will be extended to June 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s chief justice said Monday.

Georgia’s statewide judicial emergency will be extended to June 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s chief justice said Monday.

This means all criminal and civil jury trials will continue to be suspended, while courts will remain open to handle critical and essential services, such as bond hearings, restraining orders and arrest warrants.

The current emergency was set to end May 13. But it needs to be extended another month to accommodate social distancing and other safety measures recommended by state and national officials, Melton said.

“The courts are different from most private establishments and public places in that we compel people to attend court proceedings, and that requires us to be extra cautious,” the chief justice said.

Separately, the state Supreme Court is asking for public comment on a draft plan to allow some non-jury civil trials to be conducted by video conference.

The rule would allow such trials only in cases where the constitutional right to trial by jury does not apply, or in which the parties have waived their right to a jury trial.

The rule also gives the public the right to watch the trials through a video conference or live stream, and it requires public notice for when the trial is to occur.

The court is asking for public comments to be sent to rules@gasupreme.us no later than 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The draft video trial rule can be found here.

Also, the state high court said, courts will now be asked to develop plans to be able to conduct non-critical business through videoconferencing or by adhering to public health guidelines. Courts will also be urged to conduct remote judicial hearings where legally permitted as a preferred alternative to in-person proceedings.

The chief justice said he will create a special task that will develop plans for the safety of those asked to participate in jury trials and grand jury proceedings when the emergency ends. The group will include judges from every class of court and will receive input from prosecutors, public defenders, private attorney, court clerks and sheriffs.