ATLANTA — Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton Monday extended the statewide judicial emergency in effect because of the coronavirus pandemic until May 13. Melton first declared the emergency on March 14 and set it to expire on April 13.

While the emergency declaration orders courts to remain open to deal with cases considered critical to protecting the “health, safety and liberty of individuals,” criminal trials and jury duty have been suspended.

Courts are urged to use teleconferencing and videoconferencing when feasible to avoid spreading COVID-19.

Melton’s order also suggests lawyers avoid creating a backlog of nonessential cases either by moving them forward or agreeing to continuances.

“The threat of this virus is difficult for everyone,” Melton said in a prepared statement. “Court personnel are no exception. We have to ensure that they can safely fulfill their mission.”

The order states that Melton will give notice when he is ready to lift the emergency “at least one week in advance to allow courts to plan the transition to fuller operations.”

The Alcovy Circuit district attorney’s office said it remains open. Citizens may contact the office via email, with addresses found online at alcovycircuit.com.

Superior Court judges have remained available for emergency orders.

David Clemons, editor and publisher of The Walton Tribune, contributed reporting from Monroe.


Email: dwilliams@capitol-beat.org

Dave Williams is the bureau chief of the Capitol Beat News Service.