Chief Justice Melton’s Extension of the Statewide Judicial Emergency

Jun 15, 2020

On Friday, June 12, 2020, Chief Justice Melton extended the statewide judicial emergency another 30 days through July 14, 2020.  The new order though, announced a plan to reimpose many of the deadlines in civil cases in hopes of getting them moving again.  Chief Justice Melton issued this most recent order with the advice of a Judicial COVID-19 Task Force, of which the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (“GTLA”) had a member.  Prior to the Judicial COVID-19 Task force’s organization, GTLA had organized its own COVID-19 Task Force under the leadership of GTLA President Lyle Warshauer.  This helps ensure that plaintiffs throughout Georgia have their concerns heard as the Chief Justice further considers guidelines to get cases moving again.

Of the measures announced in the Chief Justice’s most recent order, here are the most important ones that impact your case:

  • The suspension of jury trials continues until further order of the Chief Justice.  The order does note that the Judicial COVID-19 Task Force is working on policies and guidelines for jury trials to proceed safely, but it is unlikely that any jury trials will happen until August or later.
  • All deadlines that were pending in civil cases before the March 14, 2020 Order declaring a statewide judicial emergency will be reimposed effective July 14, 2020.
  • Cases filed on or after July 14, 2020 will have normal deadlines.
  • Judges are encouraged to reimpose deadlines on a case-by-case basis.
  • Courts are encouraged to continue to use technology for remote proceedings when possible, and the order allows courts to compel participation in remote proceedings as long as it does not impose undue burdens on participants.
  • Allows parties to consent to remote proceedings.
  • Allows courts to conduct in-person judicial proceedings as long as public health guidelines are followed.
  • Allows local courts to impose additional restrictions as they see fit, but no court can disregard the restrictions imposed by the Chief Justice’s Order.

We at Warshauer Woodward Atkins continue to do everything we can to move our clients’ cases forward, using technology and all resources available.  We are also grateful for Chief Justice Melton’s leadership as well as those who are advising him so that our courts can operate efficiently and safely.