In a memo released Tuesday, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley asked North Carolina courts to drastically reduce their operations, including hearings on foreclosures and evictions, amid concerns about COVID-19.
“Put simply, it cannot be business as usual for our court system. Non-essential court functions that cannot be accomplished through the use of remote technology must be postponed,” Beasley wrote.
Beasley asked that in-person meetings be canceled or postponed as often as possible for the next 30 days, and when that isn’t an option, alternate forms of communication should be used.
“Subject to health precautions, involuntary commitment hearings, guardianship hearings, and pressing estate administration matters should be conducted. Other matters before the clerk, such as foreclosures and other special proceedings, must be postponed,” Beasley wrote.
Matters presented before magistrates, initial appearances and weddings, should still be performed according to the memo. However, “small claims proceedings, including summary ejectments and money owed” are postponed.
Additionally, Beasley wrote that civil and criminal matters should be handled at the district and superior court levels that are not mentioned, like traffic court, should be postponed.
Beasley asked officials from each court to report their procedures to the state judicial branch’s communications office and closings to the branch’s help desk so further information can be provided to the public.
“Our work to stop the spread of the coronavirus will be continuous,” Beasley wrote.