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Court system used down time to play catch-up

On any given day, the paperwork in Melissa Boyd’s office ebbs and flows, but the one constant is that there is always something to do, always something on her desk that needs to be addressed.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” she said. “But it does look pretty bad, doesn’t it?”

However, that is about to change.

Boyd, an assistant clerk of Superior Court at the Haywood County Justice Center, now has a golden opportunity — the opportunity to catch up on all the things that have found their way to the perpetual back burner. For example, Boyd was supposed to be in the courtroom for Superior Court trials last week.

“We would have been in court for five days,” she said.

But an order issued by N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley ceased court operations almost entirely, leaving the deputy and assistant clerks who make the justice center run time to tend to other tasks. That order came in response to Gov. Roy Cooper’s initial request to limit gatherings to no more than 100 people that was announced at a press conference on March 13.

“Unfortunately, in the moment we are facing, we must weigh the benefits of our court services against the need to protect North Carolina from coronavirus,” Beasley said.

“While the work of our courts must continue, my first priority is the health and safety of the public we serve and the employees that provide those services,” she added.

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