Judicial Branch To Request Emergency Judges, Technology To Keep Courtrooms Open | Beaufort County Now | As courthouses begin to reopen across North Carolina, the state’s judicial branch office is preparing to request millions of dollars in funding to help keep them open.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Andrew Dunn.

  As courthouses begin to reopen across North Carolina, the state's judicial branch office is preparing to request millions of dollars in funding to help keep them open.

  The Administrative Office of the Courts is finalizing a budget request that would include more personal protective equipment, temporary staff, emergency judges, and more technology.

"We have critical short-term needs for courthouse responsiveness to COVID," Judge Andrew Heath, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, told Carolina Journal.

  Courthouse employees also will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine alongside other frontline workers, Heath said, after a request from Chief Justice Paul Newby.

  The requests will help fulfill what Heath and Newby have called the "constitutional mandate" of the judicial system.

  Immediately upon taking office earlier this month, Newby rescinded some emergency orders requiring courthouses to close — paving the way for more proceedings to be handled normally.

"Open courts available for all citizens is not a luxury, it's a mandate," Newby said during his inauguration ceremony.

  As the coronavirus arrived in North Carolina in March, former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order postponing all court proceedings. Later, courts began holding "essential" hearings, but matters deemed "non-essential" were delayed time and again.

  Fortunately, that has not led to a major backlog — though there were significantly more cases pending at the end of 2020 than at the end of 2019.

  At the end of last year, there were 14.6% more criminal cases and 6.2% more civil cases than the year before.

"While the pandemic has caused some delays and changes in operations, it is not at all unusual for the number of pending cases to fluctuate by a small percentage in any given year," Heath said. "We have heard misperceptions about a huge backlog, but the data doesn't support that perception."

  Keeping courthouses open should help reduce that backlog. Heath said the judicial branch will also emphasize technology, saying the pandemic has stressed the need to "modernize" the court system.

  That includes prioritizing developing and expanding the eCourts system, which allows people to put together legal documents for proceedings like name changes, evictions, small claims and divorces without the need for an attorney.

Andrew Dunn is a freelance writer for Carolina Journal.
Go Back

HbAD0

Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Rodney Scott, the former chief of the United States Border Patrol, said during a Fox News interview that the Biden administration has been paying contractors millions of dollars a day to not build the wall along with U.S.-Mexico border, even as the administration faces an illegal immigration crisis.
While all eyes were on Virginia and New Jersey elections on Tuesday, N.C. Republicans quietly followed the same pattern, flipping key elections in areas critical to legislative and congressional elections next year.
MSNBC host Joy Reid and frequent guest Michael Eric Dyson faced backlash online late on Thursday evening after a video clip went viral from Reid’s show that was widely panned as blatantly racist.
Fox News reporter Peter Doocy stumped White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday with a question about reports that the Biden administration is preparing to give illegal aliens who were separated at the border under the prior administration massive payouts.
Making oil more expensive
Is the GOP’s electoral wipeout of Democratic candidates in Virginia a harbinger of things to come in North Carolina next year?
No longer the "friendly opposition", the Liberal "ying" to the more studious, more insightful "yang"; no, not the least bit worthy of such.

HbAD1

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) said late this week that he would work with the state legislature to figure out what they can do to stop illegal aliens from being flown into the state of Florida by the Biden administration.
After the release of former Today Show co-host Katie Couric’s new book, “Going There,” in which she trashes people left and right, and the report that Couric had tried to humiliate her colleague Ashleigh Banfield at the 2000 Olympics, Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean blasted her on Twitter.
The plaintiffs in the long-running Leandro school funding case have asked the court to bypass the legislature and order the state government to transfer $1.7 billion to begin funding components of the plan.
A report surfaced that gunmen for the drug cartels south of the American border have been taunting Texas National Guard soldiers by standing across the Rio Grande with AK-47s.
Many college campuses aren’t as hospitable to open inquiry and free expression as they should be. However, there is reason for hope.
What you think could not land you on the govt. enemies list
President Joe Biden exploded on Saturday at a reporter who asked him about media reports that his administration was planning to give illegal aliens who were separated from their families at the border under the last administration payouts that could go well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars
Critical race theory is the idea that the United States is a fundamentally racist country and that all of our institutions including the law, culture, business, the economy are all designed to maintain white supremacy.

HbAD2

 
Back to Top