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NC delays court cases to slow spread of coronavirus

BY WILL DORAN
MARCH 13, 2020 11:14 AM

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announces on Mar. 13, 2020, that most court cases in NC will take a 30-day pause in response to the threat from the Covid-19 coronavirus. BY JUDICIAL BRANCH OF NORTH CAROLINA

Most North Carolinians with court dates in the next several weeks are getting a temporary delay in their cases.

Starting Monday, most court cases and other hearings in district and superior court will be continued for at least 30 days.

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley announced the delays Friday in a news conference at the state’s top court.

“We will be doing our part to help slow the spread of coronavirus,” Beasley said.

The main goal is to balance public safety and public health, Beasley said. Officials didn’t want people to have to decide between skipping court and possibly compromising their health or the health of others.

“Thousands of people enter our courthouses every day, most often because they have been summoned to be there and will risk legal consequences if they do not appear,” she said.

The temporary cancellations, however, won’t apply to everything.

Juvenile cases and emergency proceedings, like those related to domestic violence, will continue as planned, Beasley said.

Other proceedings that are constitutionally guaranteed to criminal defendants will also continue without delay. First appearances and hearings for matters like bail, probable cause and probation will also go ahead as planned.

And even for those whose cases do get delayed, Beasley said, they will be able to ask their local judges to reconsider — if there’s a compelling reason to go ahead with the schedule as planned. Similarly, judges will also have the discretion to delay proceedings that wouldn’t otherwise be delayed, if they anticipate a public health risk related to coronavirus.

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