The work of Delaware’s federal court continued throughout the day on Thursday, after a strong winter storm closed the courthouse doors in Wilmington.
U.S. Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark of the District of Delaware announced Thursday morning that the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware was closed due to inclement weather, which was expected to drop four to eight inches of snow in the area, according to weather reports.
The decision was made largely out of concern for the safety of the public and court employees, who would have had to traverse snow-packed streets, slippery sidewalks and bitter winds in order to reach the building at 844 N. King St.
However, for one of the country’s busiest district courts, taking the day off was not an option.
Judges and other high-ranking court personnel were able to work throughout the day, either remotely or by braving the blustery conditions to reach their offices. Attorneys, meanwhile, used the court’s e-filing system to submit documents, albeit at lower volumes than in the previous days.
Still, hearings scheduled to take place in Wilmington were scrapped for the day, leading judges to adjust their calendars or conduct teleconferences instead.
Stark did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but the district court was expected to reopen Friday morning.
Things were quieter on Thursday for Delaware’s state courts, which follow executive-level directives for closing due to bad weather.
The Delaware Court of Chancery, which has courthouses in all three counties, shuttered almost all of its operations after Gov. John Carney ordered government offices closed statewide, said Karlis Johnson, court administrator.
Fortunately, Johnson said, the court had a light schedule after the holidays, with no trials scheduled for this week. Teleconferences and oral arguments that had been slated for Thursday would be rearranged in the coming days.
Judges on the court were expected to still work through their caseload, reading and writing opinions.
“Our judges work nights and weekends anyway,” Johnson said. “While it’s a snow day for us, they are probably pretty busy.”
A winter storm warning remained in effect for Wilmington until 5 p.m. Thursday evening, and Sussex County remained under a state of emergency, with driving restrictions still in place for nonessential personnel.
Strong winds and freezing temperatures were expected to stretch into Friday.