As you may already know, on March 14, 2020 Georgia Chief Justice Harold D. Melton signed an order declaring a statewide judicial emergency. This order requires Georgia courts to suspend all non-essential court functions in order to practice responsible social distancing and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Like or follow the Don Turner Legal Team on Facebook for more updates on the coronavirus crisis as it unfolds.
Hearings where the immediate liberty of safety of another person is at risk will still be heard. This includes jail hearings, bond reviews, temporary protective orders, and mental health commitment hearings. The original judicial emergency order lays out which hearings are considered essential. Any hearing that does not fall under these above-mentioned categories was moved off the calendar.
At the time of writing, the order was scheduled to end on April 13, 2020, after which, courts across Georgia would be able to resume operations as normal. However, as of April 6, 2020, the order has been extended into May 13. This means that if your hearing is considered non-essential, your court date will likely be further delayed. Make sure to check your court’s website to see how they have chosen to respond to this order and keep an ear open for your new court date.
Chief Justice Melton feels that extending the judicial emergency order is a necessary step to preserve the health and safety of court personnel and the public. He also believes that courts and attorneys who are handling nonessential matters should move forward with them as much as possible, in order to maintain keep a backlog from building up. Even if the courts are not hearing most matters, attorneys are encouraged to do what they can to stay on top of their cases.
The courts aren’t the only things that will be closed longer than expected. Governor Brian Kemp has also ordered Georgia schools closed for the remainder of the academic year. Students will continue to be educated remotely but it will be a while before schools open their doors to them once more.
At the time of this writing, COVID-19 is still a serious public safety issue. Over 400,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the United States alone, and 16,000 American citizens have passed away from the disease. These are numbers that we need to take seriously and work to reduce by practicing responsible social distancing. Having to further delay court dates and close public venues for a bit longer might be inconvenient, but in the long run, it will save lives.
If you suspect that you have contracted COVID-19, contact the Georgia coronavirus hotline at (844) 442-2681. Keep in mind that although this virus does cause respiratory symptoms, not all respiratory symptoms are a sign of the virus. Spring is underway, which means that pollen is heavy in the air right now. Many of Americans are currently suffering from our yearly bot of hay fever, which has caused some unneeded worry in a country made anxious by the spread of the virus.
According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, a cough, and shortness of breath, although some people have also reported aches and pains, along with a loss of smell and taste. All of these symptoms can show up within 2 to 14 days of exposure. Although allergies can also cause coughing and congestion, they rarely cause a fever. Additionally, the coughing caused by COVID-19 is a dry cough, whereas coughs caused by allergies usually aren’t.
Right now, the best thing we can do to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is to follow the Georgia courts’ example and continue to practice responsible social distancing. If you do need to buy essential items, engage in exercise, or travel to and from your workplace, remember to maintain a distance of six feet from other people, regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face and eyes.
The CDC also advises the use of cloth face coverings in order to help halt the spread of the virus. Here’s a great tutorial for making your own cloth face mask. Cloth face masks can also make the heavy amount of pollen in the air a little more bearable, so that’s another reason to wear them.
Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today if you have any questions about your case and how the extension of this judicial emergency order might effect it. These are anxious times, but as long as we practice responsible social distancing and mindfulness, we will pull through together.