By Marianna Michael
On April 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of Kentucky issued its latest Order extending deadlines in response to COVID-19. In what is its most dramatic extension to this point, the Court has limited its functions and those of the Court of Appeals until May 31, 2020. Up to this point, the Court had been extending its deadlines every two weeks. The most recent Order extends deadlines for more than six weeks.
The Order, which can be found here, included the following restrictions:
• All civil and criminal dockets, with the exception of emergency and time-sensitive matters, including but not limited to, domestic violence hearings, emergency custody hearings, temporary child support hearings, evidentiary hearings in criminal cases, in-custody arraignments, in-custody preliminary hearings, in-custody bond motions, in-custody probation violation hearings, and in-custody juvenile detention hearings, all civil and criminal dockets shall be cancelled, are cancelled unless a judge determines, in his or her discretion, that a matter requires prompt attention.
• Parties and attorneys must be permitted to participate remotely.
• No more than ten (10) people should be in the courtroom at once unless the judge, in his or her discretion, deems it necessary and enforces appropriate distances between people.
• Facilities are to remain closed to in-person services, which continues the closures that went into effect on April 1, 2020.
• All civil trials shall be postponed and rescheduled for a later day. Any civil jury trials currently in progress should be continued, unless the judge determines that the trial shall be completed. Judges are permitted to use available telephonic and video technology to conduct hearings in a civil case if the judge determines in his or her discretion that the matter merits prompt attention.
• Reasonable attempts shall be made to reschedule all criminal trials, subject to a defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
• All small claims, eviction, juvenile, probate, traffic, and guardianship cases scheduled are to be continued, with the exception of emergency matters and statutorily required hearings.
• Eviction filings shall not be accepted by the circuit clerk until 30 days after the expiration of the Order on May 31, 2020.
• Judges are to continue addressing matters that do not require a hearing or personal appearance.
• Jurors who are ill, caring for someone who is ill, or who are in a high-risk category are to have their jury service postponed to a later date.
• New juror orientations shall be suspended unless an exception is granted by the Chief Justice while existing jury panels may be extended at the discretion of the court.
• Individuals who (i) have traveled to high-risk countries or states with widespread cases within the last fourteen (14) days; (ii) exhibit COVID-19 symptoms; or (iii) have been in contact with someone who has exhibited COVID-19 symptoms are prohibited from entering any state courthouse.
• Individuals with legitimate court business who are ill, caring for someone who is ill or who are in a high-risk category are advised to stay home and request a continuance by calling the local Office of the Circuit Court Clerk.
Sharing many of the directives outlined in the April 1, 2020 Order, the latest Supreme Court of Kentucky Order replaces it in its entirety. Return here for additional updates on the judiciary’s response to COVID-19.