“It is clear that we will not be in a position to resume normal functioning of our court system for at least several months, and possibly into the fall,” says Chief Justice Cheri Beasely.
At the same time, the jurist says that the state can’t continue indefinitely as it is now, with many court functions shut down. Although it is necessary to protect the health and safety of workers and visitors to county courthouses, she says, the courts must begin providing a greater level of service to the public.
To accomplish that, the chief justice has formed a COVID-19 task force for the judicial branch. It will recommend policy changes and emergency directives related to the pandemic. It will work with associations and conferences within the judicial branch to make recommendations for:
- Future emergency directives
- Policy changes
- Best practices to help courts increase service levels in the coming months
The announcement of the task force, which will be co-chaired by Chief District Court Judge Jay Corpening and Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Don Bridges, comes on the heels of Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement of a graduated plan to reopen state businesses. North Carolinians are expected to engage in social distancing and avoid large gatherings, particularly in public places, for the duration of the plan.
The director of the Administrative Office of the Courts called the creation of the COVID-19 task force “an encouraging and necessary step to help in our planning over the coming weeks and months.” The administrator said her office stands ready to offer the courts the administrative support they need during this process.