Georgia Chief Justice announces statewide judicial emergency

Coronavirus
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ATLANTA, Ga. (WSAV) – Chief Justice Harold D. Melton declared a statewide judicial emergency, effective immediately, in Georgia on Saturday.

The order states that courts “should remain open to address essential functions, and in particular courts should give priority to matters defined as those necessary to protect health, safety, and liberty of individuals.”

The order lists matters that should be prioritized, including domestic abuse restraining orders, juvenile court delinquency detention hearings and emergency removal matters, mental health commitment hearings, and cases that require urgent attention for safety reasons.

“Following Governor Kemp’s declaration today of a Public Health State of Emergency, I am directing the judicial branch of government to suspend all but essential court functions,” Melton said. “These critical matters will remain a priority in our courts.”

Criminal trials that already have a jury will continue until conclusion, Melton said. The order suspends and grants relief from judicial deadlines, such as “the time within which to issue a warrant” and the “time within which to hold a commitment hearing.”

The order states that, “To the extent court proceedings are held, they should be done in a manner to limit the risk of exposure, where possible, such as videoconferencing.”

The order is in place until April 13.

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