For Immediate Release
June 12, 2020
THIRD ORDER EXTENDING DECLARATION OF STATEWIDE JUDICIAL EMERGENCY
On March 14, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Honorable Harold D. Melton, as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, issued an Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency pursuant to OCGA § 38-3-61. That Order has been extended twice, with modifications, by orders issued on April 6 and May 11, 2020. After consulting with the Judicial Council of Georgia, the Judicial COVID-19 Task Force, and other judicial partners, and recognizing again that most in-court proceedings compel the attendance of various individuals rather than allowing them to decide how best to protect their own health, it is hereby determined that the Order should be extended again, but with significant modifications.
The work of the courts in Georgia has diligently gone forward on essential and critical matters, and most courts have continued some non- essential court operations, in particular by using technology to conduct proceedings remotely, but more must be done. Therefore, as detailed below, with the exception of jury trial proceedings and most grand jury proceedings, this extension order announces a plan to reimpose as of July 14, 2020, many of the deadlines imposed by law on litigants in civil and criminal cases that have been suspended, tolled, or extended since the initial Order on March 14, in order to allow more pending cases and newly filed cases to move forward in the judicial process again. All Georgia courts must continue, however, to conduct proceedings, remotely or in-person, in compliance with public health guidance, applicable statutes and court rules, and the requirements of the United States and Georgia Constitutions, including the public’s right of access to judicial proceedings and a criminal defendant’s rights to confrontation and an open courtroom.
Accordingly, the Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency, which would have expired on Friday, June 12, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., is further extended until Sunday, July 12, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. All Georgia courts shall continue to operate under the restrictions set forth in that Order as extended, with the following clarifications, modifications, and directions. Where this order refers to “public health guidance,” courts should consider the most specific current guidance provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and their local health departments.