Effect of Coronavirus on Civil Litigation Cases in North Carolina Courts

On March 10, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency in North Carolina. As a result of this declaration and further executive orders in the last month, Justice Beasley, of the North Carolina Supreme Court has entered several Orders limiting the normal operation of the North Carolina Court System. The Orders entered by Justice Beasley have expressly ordered the rescheduling of all proceedings unless:

  1. The proceeding can be conducted remotely
  2. The proceeding is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law
  3. The proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief
  4. The senior resident superior court judge, the chief business court judge or chief district court judge determines that the proceeding can occur under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.

Governor Cooper has issued further Executive Orders which provide additional guidance for the public on the operation of the courts. Before making any decisions or assuming anything about your court case, you should consult one of the experienced civil litigation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC today. Contact us at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your initial consultation.

Can I still file a lawsuit?

Yes. The courts are still accepting filings of new complaints. The only difference from normal operations are limited hours of operation of the Clerk's office and a delay in your case getting to trial. Each local county has adjusted their hours of operation, so it is important to check with the Clerk of Court or the North Carolina Judicial Branch website to determine when your local courthouse is open. Before initiating a lawsuit, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your options. Our experienced civil litigation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have the skills and knowledge to counsel you on the best way to proceed if you believe you have grounds for initiating a lawsuit.

What if I have a pending civil case?

Justice Beasley's Orders restrict the operation of the North Carolina Court system to specific matters. Routine matters, including most civil litigation issues, are presently being rescheduled to a later date. Justice Beasley has encouraged the continuation of court proceedings that can be held remotely. The Order also encourages Senior Resident Superior Court Judges and Chief District Court Judges to take steps to conduct court proceedings in a manner that protects the health and safety of all participants. Mecklenburg County has authorized audio-video conferences for general civil motions. However, there are specific requirements for a motion to proceed in this manner. Contact one of our knowledgeable civil litigation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to schedule an initial consultation to discuss the viability of an audio-video conference for your case.

What about deadlines in my case?

Although the court may not be holding regular hearings, they are still accepting filings. Chief Justice Beasley also issued an order that makes all filings that are or were due to be filed on or after March 16 through June 1, to be timely so long as they are filed before the close of business on June 1. This extension of filing deadlines also applies to acts that are to be done or where to be done after March 16 through June 1. This applies to not only to civil actions, but criminal actions, estate proceedings and special proceedings. This Order issued by Justice Beasley on April 13, 2020 applies only to Superior and District Court proceedings. This Order specifically does not apply to filings and acts to be done in the appellate courts. A separate Order regarding the extension of time for deadlines imposed by the Rules of Appellate Procedure was entered on March 27, 2020. If you believe you may have deadlines or acts that file within the time frame set out in the Chief Justice's order, contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to speak to one of our experienced and knowledgeable civil litigation attorneys about how this extension affects your civil case.

Contact an Experienced Civil Litigation Attorney

Although the stay-at-home Orders entered by Governor Cooper are intended to restrict public movement, they do not prohibit the operation of essential businesses. Legal services are considered an essential business. Arnold & Smith, PLLC attorneys are operating and advocating for their clients and are available to consult with you about the limited court operations and the effect on your civil litigation case.

If you have questions about the impact of the present limited court operations, contact an experienced civil litigation attorney in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina to help you understand your legal rights, and how best protect yourself. Contact an experienced civil litigation attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your consultation.