As the coronavirus threat continues, the Delaware Superior Court has suspended all criminal and civil jury trials through April 15 and the Chancery Court has ordered that, for the next 30 days, all hearings and trials either be conducted electronically or be continued.
Both orders are subject to to further review once they expire.
The orders from both courts, effective Monday, came after the state Supreme Court issued an order declaring a judicial emergency. The high court’s order gave all trial courts in the state the flexibility to continue trials and hearings in civil and criminal cases for 30 days.
The order also urged courts to use audiovisual devices to conduct proceedings other than jury trials and tolled all time requirements under the Speedy Trial Guidelines.
“I signed this emergency declaration after the President of the United States and the governor of the State of Delaware declared national and state emergencies, and only after careful consideration by the Delaware Supreme Court and the other state courts,” Chief Justice Collins Seitz Jr. said in a press release accompanying the judicial emergency order. “The judicial branch also heard from our justice partners about the urgent need to alter the way we handle criminal and civil cases in the Delaware courts. Declaring a judicial emergency is needed to protect our state employees and the public from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The emergency declaration will be revisited every 30 days, or earlier if circumstances change or the public health emergency has passed.”
Also on Monday, the Supreme Court issued an order suspending the requirement that attorneys file paper copies of documents are also electronically submitted.
Read the Superior Court’s and Chancery Court’s orders below:
For information and updates on the judiciary’s response to COVID-19, click here.