Most Delaware courts were shuttered Wednesday afternoon due to inclement weather, as a winter storm continued dumping inches of snow throughout the area.
All state courts in New Castle and Kent Counties closed at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on the order of Gov. John Carney, with only the 24-hour Justice of the Peace Courts remaining open. All scheduled events for New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties were rescheduled, and nonessential state employees were instructed that they could leave work once their offices closed.
The U.S. District Court in Wilmington never opened Wednesday due to the storm.
The weather also caused some issues at Widener University Delaware Law School, where the state Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments Wednesday morning. Though Widener Law had canceled classes, arguments went forward as planned, but a court spokesman said they would likely proceed quicker than usual in order to accommodate litigants who had to travel.
While the decision to close Delaware’s federal court, one of the busiest in the nation, is left to Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark, state courts follow executive-level orders from the governor.
Typically, the district court’s e-filing system remains in operation, and essential court employees often continue their work, either remotely or from their offices. Chancery Court judges, facing similar caseloads, usually continue reading case documents and writing opinions despite the weather.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory until 9 p.m., predicting that two to four inches of snow around Wilmington. According to the NWS, snow and sleet were expected for Wednesday afternoon, before the precipitation switches over to rain in the evening. However, the weather was expected to clear out by Thursday, with temperatures expected to rise to the low 50s.