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Covid-19 Status of Court System

Update:

On April 8, 2002, Gov. Kemp extended his order of March 14, 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19 on the State of Georgia, Gov. Kemp issued Executive Order No. 03.14.20.01, declaring a Public Health State of Emergency in Georgia. This Public Health State of Emergency declared by Executive Order 03.14.20.01, which was to expire on Monday, April 13, 2020 at 11:59 P.M., is now renewed for thirty (30) days; the Public Health State of Emergency shall terminate on May 13, 2020, at 11:59 P.M., unless it is renewed by the Governor.

Further: That Executive Orders 04.02.20.01, 04.03.20.01, and 04.03.20.02 which are set to expire on Monday, April 13, 2020, at11:59 P.M. are hereby extended for a period of seventeen (17) days, and shall expire on Thursday, April 30, 2020, at11:59 P.M.

Those orders are set forth below:
The Governor has issued an Order, April 3, 2020, expanding the Essential Services and non-Essential services definitions. The Order of April 2, 2020 stated anyone violating the Shelter in Place Order would be guilty of a misdemeanor. The officials enforcing the order are to provide notice prior to issuing a citation or making an arrest. This replaces the Executive Order of March 23, 2020.that allows the Sheriffs of this State and their deputies to enforce the close business, establishment, corporations, non-profit corporations or organizations as the Executive order of April 2, 2020.

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the Georgia Supreme Court, issued an Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency. This is a 30-day order that, basically, does not shut down court actions but does grant some relief from attending hearings, suspends certain deadlines and statutes of limitations during that time.
We have many questions about documents that have to be signed before a Notary Public. The Governor’s Order from March 31, 2020 states that “these requirements, per §44-2-1 et seq. and 45-17-1 et seq. , that an in¬ person witness attest or acknowledge an instrument, document, or deed that must occur in the physical presence of the notary public may be satisfied by the use of real-time audio-visual communication technology or any similar real-time means of electronic video conferencing that allows the parties to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound”.

On April 1, 2020, the Governor updated his Order of March 13, 2020, that the school closures mandated by Executive Order 03.26.20.02 are hereby extended:
That all public elementary and secondary schools shall remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. That all post-secondary public schools shall remain closed for instruction to graduate and undergraduate students through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. That for the purposes of online learning, each local school district may establish a final day of classes pursuant to each district’s authority conveyed by Code Section 20- 2-49 et seq.


 

Hello to our friends, clients and colleagues.  We are in a very different world for our Courts and justice system than at the beginning of 2020 and there are new protocols in our Courts as per the Emergency Orders put in place due to Coronavirus/COVID-19.

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the Georgia Supreme Court, issued an Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency.  This is a 30-day order that, basically, does not shut down court actions but does grant some relief from attending hearings, suspends certain deadlines and statutes of limitations during that time.

Gwinnett Superior Court: School and Holiday Visitation Questions relating to child visitation schedules during the school closings; the Judges have determined that child visitation is governed by the child’s school calendar, visitation will continue to be governed by the previously published school calendar regardless of any break or homeschooling necessitated by the current public health crisis. Spring Break, holiday, and summer visitations will continue to be governed by the controlling school calendar, or as set out in any pending or applicable custody order.  There is no jury duty or grand jury duty at this time; civil and criminal hearings are suspended.

Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court (traffic and planning and zoning) is hearing only jail custody cases during this time.  All arraignments, trials, pleas, probation hearings, status updates and school bus camera cases are being continued.  Notices of all rescheduled matters will be mailed.  The Clerk’s office is open for filing pleadings, entries of appearance; if you have a matter pending in Recorders Court and need help, please call me as we handle ALL Recorders Court matters.

The Duluth traffic court cases, and most municipal courts cases are also continued until after April 13, 2020, unless a Defendant is in custody.  Please let us know if you need help to find out if your case is continued.

Juvenile Court:  The only hearings in the Juvenile Court building are the delinquent detention hearings and Preliminary Protective removal hearings until April 13, 2020, unless otherwise extended.  Detention hearings will be held via WebEx video/telephone conferencing at 1:00 pm.  The Clerk’s Office is open for filings.  If you have a case where a child is in detention, or a child in a dependency case (return of custody, visitation, review, etc.), and need help, please send me an email and I will try to help. Traffic Tickets (under Age 17) hearings will be rescheduled.

Magistrate Court:  Any new filings are by e-filing or may be mailed to the Clerk’s office.  You can go to www.gwinnettcourts.com to the magistrate court tab and locate forms that you may need.  The Court is not accepting new garnishments at this time and hearings for pending cases will be rescheduled.  No Defaults or Writs of Possession will be issued without a hearing.  All trials are rescheduled to a later date and notices will be mailed. The Court is not accepting any new Criminal Warrant Applications from non-law enforcement applicants.  Any pending warrant application hearings will be rescheduled.  Domestic Violence hearings will still be heard. The Court recommends you report a crime directly to the police.

Probate Court:  The Clerk’s Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is limited public access area near the Court office.  The Clerk is accepting Emergency Petitions, Medical Consent Guardianships, Orders to Apprehend, Involuntary Commitment Petitions, and Marriage License applications (with a wedding occurring before April 14, 2020) for in person filing at this time. Please call ahead: (770) 822-8350.

We have had questions about ongoing litigation, including our auto accident and workers comp cases.  Of course, these are life-changing experiences, not fun to deal with and is usually a long process of filing the insurance claim, arguing with the adjuster about who was at fault and not getting anywhere.  We are continuing to work on those cases even though there are no trials pending at this time.  If you have a situation such as this, as the victim or the defendant, please call me if I may help. Do not try to handle this situation alone.

As of March 26, 2020, Gov. Kemp has ordered all schools to remain closed thru 4/24.  In Gwinnett where the courts are tied to the school calendar.  I expect court closures will be extended.

My office is here to help you with all Superior Court civil and criminal matters, Recorders Court traffic and Juvenile Court matters, including contested cases between parents and third parties, grandparent custody matters and juvenile traffic court tickets.  We also handle wills, trusts and estates.

Please let us know if we may be of help.

Finally, I trust all of you are safe and “sheltering in place.”  Stay happy and healthy!

Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.

4799 Sugarloaf Parkway, Bldg. J

Lawrenceville, Ga 30044; 770-963-1105 ; facs. 770-963-2828

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