For the second time this winter, Delaware state and federal courts in Wilmington were forced to shut their doors on Wednesday, as a powerful late-season storm moved through the region.
Delaware’s district and Bankruptcy Courts announced the closures in anticipation of inclement weather, which was expected to dump as much as five inches of snow on Wilmington and the surrounding areas, according to weather reports.
The state courts opened for business Wednesday morning, but employees were sent home around noon, after Gov. John Carney ordered all New Castle County government offices closed at noon as conditions deteriorated. The 24-hour Justice of the Peace Court 11 remained open, according to a notice posted on the judiciary website.
The Delaware Court of Chancery continued to operate in Kent and Sussex counties, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dover. Meanwhile, the General Assembly canceled its scheduled session, though its offices remained open early Wednesday afternoon.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware closed at the order of Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark, largely out of concern for the safety of the public and court employees. However, judges and court personnel were able to work remotely, and attorneys took advantage of the court’s e-filing system.
Still, scheduled hearings were scrapped for the day, forcing judges to adjust their calendars or to conduct teleconferences instead.
The state courts, on the other hand, follow executive-level directives for closing due to bad weather.
There were no major hearings or trials scheduled for the Chancery Court in Wilmington, according to the court’s calendar. Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III was slated to hold hearings in his Georgetown courtroom. Those were expected to proceed as planned.
The Weather Channel reported that Wilmington would remain under a winter storm warning until 3 a.m. Thursday. Heavy snow was expected to continue through the late afternoon, with winds between 20 and 30 miles per hour.
It was not yet clear whether the courts would open on Thursday.