The Alabama Supreme Court has suspended most court proceedings in the state for the next 30 days, beginning Monday, March 16, in an effort to slow the transmission of COVID-19. This includes municipal, juvenile, probate, district, circuit and appellate courts.
“A few essential court hearings will be held during this 30 day period by either video conferencing or in person, as determined by the judge who is presiding over the particular case,” said Presiding Circuit Court Judge Gregory Nicholas.
Parties can continue to e-file pleadings and judges will continue to file orders during this time, he said.
Exceptions during the suspension are proceedings that protect constitutional rights in criminal cases, such as bond proceedings and plea agreements of jailed individuals; any trials that were in progress as of Friday; emergency protection proceedings, including emergency child custody and mental health orders; petitions for temporary injunctive relief; proceedings related to the COVID-19 public health emergency; and emergent proceedings as needed by law enforcement. The Chief Justice can also waive the 30-day suspension if needed.
In these exempted circumstances, the Supreme Court said, “all judges and court clerks are urged to limit in- person courtroom contact as much as possible by utilizing available technologies, including electronic filing, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing.”
According to the local order by the Circuit Courts, if people do need to file papers with the courts or pick up absentee ballots for the March 31 Republican primary run-off, all transactions will take place with glass separating court officials from the public. In any in-person judicial proceedings, the order said everyone should follow CDC guidelines for social distancing, which includes keeping six feet of separation between people.
“Some individuals may view the actions being taken as excessive, but given the information available at this time, the potential threat to the elderly and those with severe underlying health conditions is very serious and I think the steps being taken are warranted,” said Nicholas.
Cullman Municipal Court cases are also among those being continued until April. The new dates are:
- All cases set for March 18 are reset for April 29
- All cases set for March 19 are reset for April 30
- All cases set for April 15 are reset for May 6
- All cases set for April 16 are reset for May 7.
Anyone who has been ordered to pay their balance in full by one of the cancelled dates will have until the new court date to make the payment. Anyone currently required to make monthly payments will have until May 10 to submit their payment.