Chief Justice Beasley Issues Order Postponing Court Proceedings Until June 1, 2020

Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri BeasleySupreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order on April 2, 2020, containing seven emergency directives. The order:

  • Postpones court proceedings for a second time to June 1, 2020
  • Continues to direct clerks of court to post notices, such as the attached poster, at court facilities discouraging entry by those infected with COVID-19
  • Authorizes court proceedings to be conducted by remote audio and video transmissions
  • Directs attorneys and others without business before the court to avoid court facilities
  • Allows use of a sworn statement under penalty of perjury rather than notarization for court filings and oaths
  • Allows service of court documents by email
  • Extends the deadline for payment of most fines and fees by 90 days and directs clerks not to report failures to pay court debt to the DMV.

“Judicial officials and court personnel statewide are going above and beyond to serve the public during this health emergency,” said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. “My number one priority is to protect them and the public by limiting gatherings and foot traffic in our county courthouses, while making sure our courts stay available to serve the public.”

The April 2 order follows Governor Roy Cooper issuance of Executive Order 121 on March 27, 2020, directing all individuals in the state to stay in their place of residence subject to limited exceptions. North Carolina’s courts are a critical government function and are therefore exempt from the Order. Nevertheless, the courts are directed, to the extent practicable, to maintain social distancing requirements, including . . . (Read more)

Chief Justice Beasley Announces Judicial Branch Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Image may contain: 4 people, including Theresa Alston Stokes, people smiling, people standing, suit and outdoorImage may contain: 4 people, including Theresa Alston Stokes, people smiling, people standing, suit and outdoorimageEffective Monday, March 16, superior court and district court proceedings will be rescheduled for at least 30 days, with some exceptions.

Photo courtesy of me taken in Rocky Mount In July 2019. Chief Beasley in Red 2nd from the left.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced several directives today affecting the operation of the North Carolina court system aimed at protecting public safety during the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

In an order entered today, the Chief Justice has directed that local courts postpone most cases in district and superior court for at least 30 days. While the work of the courts must continue and courthouses remain open, the first priority of the court system must be the health and safety of the public and of the employees who serve them.

“We must be proactive in taking steps to prioritize the health and safety of our fellow North Carolinians while also maintaining the integrity of our judicial system,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Today’s order will allow us to drastically reduce the exposure caused by crowded sessions of court, which often bring hundreds of people at a time into our courthouses.”

Although the superior courts and district courts remain open, effective Monday, March 16, superior court and district court proceedings will be rescheduled for at least 30 days, with some exceptions. These exceptions include (see more in the Supreme Court Order)

  • the proceeding will be conducted remotely; 
  • the proceeding is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law (e.g., a first appearance or bond hearing, the appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant, a probation hearing, a probable cause hearing, etc.); 
  • the proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief (e.g., a domestic violence protection order, temporary restraining order, juvenile custody order, judicial consent to juvenile medical treatment order, civil commitment order, etc.); or 
  • the senior resident superior court judge, chief business court judge, or chief district court judge determines that the proceeding can be conducted under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.

This emergency directive does not apply to any proceeding in which a jury has already been empaneled or to any grand juries already empaneled. It also does not prohibit a judge or other judicial officer from exercising any in chambers or ex parte jurisdiction conferred by law upon that judge or judicial officer, as provided by law.

Additionally, the superior courts and district courts are encouraged to liberally grant additional accommodations to parties, witnesses, attorneys, and others with business before the courts who are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 

All counties will post a notice at all court facilities directing any person who has likely been exposed to COVID-19 to not enter the courthouse. Any person who has likely been exposed and has business before the courts should contact the clerk of superior court’s office by telephone or other remote means for further instruction.

As the courts work to postpone thousands of cases, court officials will notify parties and their attorneys of new hearing and trial dates. 

The Judicial Branch will be providing continuous updated information and answers to frequently asked questions on our website, The public is encouraged to visit as a first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse. 

Online court services are available for handling some court business, including citation services, paying your ticket, court payments, signing up for court date notifications and reminders, eFiling court documents for certain courts and case types, and more.