This blog post is intended to give everyone a status check on where we are today as we adapt to the changing legal environment during Coronavirus. None of us have dealt with something like this before, but our state and local justices and judges are doing a great job communicating with us about what is going on. So a huge thank you to them and their staffs.
As we look for some positives from this the courts are doing more things electronically, more efficiently, and in smaller groups. These are good changes and hopefully will impact the legal space in the future.
State-Wide Judicial Emergency
On March 14, 2020, Chief Justice Melton of the Georgia Supreme Court declared a statewide judicial emergency, but did state that courts "should remain open to address essential functions, and in particular courts should give priority to matters defined as those necessary to protect health, safety, and liberty of individuals."
At our office we handle only criminal defense cases, so everything we do is focused on the liberty of individuals! However, folks who are in custody are going to receive more attention in the courts than those on bond. Most folks on bond are going to see their cases continued beyond this viral scare.
Clarification from the Chief Judge of Coweta Judicial Circuit
Following the Chief Justice's lead, our local chief judge issued an order declaring a judicial emergency in the Coweta Judicial Circuit. He also helped us out by giving us some guidance on what would be deemed essential during this judicial emergency.
Some of the essential functions are:
- Where an immediate liberty or safety concern is present requiring the attention of the court as soon as the court is available.
- Criminal court search warrants, arrest warrants, initial appearances, and bond reviews.
- Domestic abuse temporary protective orders and restraining orders.
- Juvenile court delinquency detention hearings and emergency removal matters.
- Mental health commitment hearings.
Furthermore, no jurors - for trials or grand juries are reporting for at least thirty times from the beginning of the order. It is a fluid period of time right now and things are going to be changing on a regular basis. Make sure to keep in touch with your lawyer for any updates on your case.
Specific Instructions for Coweta Superior Court's March 18th & 30th Court Dates
Our local judges are continuing to provide guidance during this time as well. They issued an order for these dates on March 16 and there are a few big takeaways:
- Defendants and their lawyers are not to attend if the defendant is on bond.
- If the defendant is incarcerated they are being handled on a case-by-case basis and inmates are not going to be brought over to the courthouse from the jail without permission.
- The court is open for attorney's to be heard on an essential matter if the contact the court.
- Cases not handled on this day will be continued to April 22, 2020.
Many of the cases being continued during this time are going to be continued to April 22, but make sure you talk with your attorney to make sure that applies to you as well.
Contact Us - Our Firm Can Operate 100% Virtually
Going through a criminal case is a scary process in the first place. When you add the uncertainty and fear that coronavirus/COVID-19 has instilled it only makes the process more daunting. If you are dealing with a criminal case, please don't go at it alone.
Our firm is prepared for times just like these. We offer video conferencing/consultations. Even before this virus, we maintained the capability to operate our entire onboarding process electronically. Other than the fact I am typing this from my house instead of my office we can continue to offer our services.
Don't fight your case alone. Give us a call or text us today at (470) 635-1725 and let us help you.