North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued a new order further extending the postponement of court proceedings, the North Carolina Judicial Branch announced on April 2.
The new order contains seven emergency directives. It postpones court proceedings to June 1, directs clerks of court to continue posting notices at court facilities discouraging entry by those infected with COVID-19, authorizes court proceedings to be conducted by remote audio and video transmissions, directs attorneys and others without business before the court to avoid court facilities, allows use of a sworn statement under penalty of perjury rather than notarization for court filings and oaths, allows service of court documents by email, and extends the deadline for payment of most fines and fees by 90 days and directs clerks not to report failures to pay court debt to the DMV.
“Judicial officials and court personnel statewide are going above and beyond to serve the public during this health emergency,” Beasley said in the Judicial Branch’s announcement. “My number one priority is to protect them and the public by limiting gatherings and foot traffic in our county courthouses, while making sure our courts stay available to serve the public.”
The April 2 order follows Gov. Roy Cooper’s issuance of Executive Order 121 on March 27, directing all individuals in the state to stay in their place of residence subject to limited exceptions. North Carolina’s courts are a critical government function and are therefore exempt from the order, but the courts are directed, to the extent practicable, to maintain social distancing requirements, including “facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible.”
With North Carolina’s COVID-19 infections expected to peak in late April, it is imperative that court operations remain as limited as possible through the next two months, Beasley said, and the use of telecourt functions for a wider range of hearings will alleviate the growing backlog in the court system. Efforts to further leverage technology, including through electronic filing and additional online services continue to move forward as well.
Traffic tickets and some other fees can still be paid at NCcourts.gov. The public can also sign up there for text reminders for rescheduled court dates.
“We want people to know that they do not need to come to the courthouse right now to pay a traffic ticket,” said the Chief Justice. “Deadlines for those payments have been extended and licenses will not be suspended until this emergency passes. We want people staying at home and staying safe.”