Delaware judicial emergency extended for another 30 days

WILMINGTON — Delaware Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz, Jr. on Monday signed an order extending the 30-day judicial emergency for a fourth time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the courts are now in the midst of a phased reopening plan, which welcomed the public back into court facilities on June 15, significant safety restrictions remain in place and court operations have not yet returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Collins J. Seitz Jr.

The chief justice extended the judicial emergency to Aug. 6 after consultation with other members of the Supreme Court and the courts’ infectious disease expert, Dr. Alfred Bacon.

“The COVID-19 outbreak remains a real threat to the health and safety of all Delawareans,” he said in a news release

“The virus continues to spread in other states at an alarming level. Given the continuing uncertainty about the progress of the virus in Delaware and around the country, we will continue for at least another month, and probably longer, under Phase 2 of our reopening plan to reduce the risk of exposure to our employees, attorneys, litigants and the public at large at court facilities.”

Under Phase 2, the public is back in court facilities for hearings and non-jury trials. The Supreme Court has also resumed in-person oral arguments.

To minimize traffic in the courthouses, the courts continue to encourage employees to work remotely when possible and to conduct hearings through secure audio and video conferencing.

Chief Justice Seitz noted that while some operations at Delaware courthouses have been limited, the courts have been able to conduct much of their usual business in both criminal and civil matters – with the exception of jury trials – thanks to the use of audio and video technology.

When the courts move to Phase 3 of the reopening plan and resume jury trials, traffic will increase significantly at state courthouses. The move to Phase 3 will occur only when the facts and medical advice support the move.

The full reopening plan can be viewed on the court’s website at courts.delaware.gov/aoc/courtsreopeningplan.pdf. A subcommittee of the Courts Reopening Committee is working on recommendations to safely resume jury trials.

The Delaware courts continue to provide the public and members of the Bar with regular updates on changes to court operations on the court’s COVID-19 response page https://courts.delaware.gov/aoc/covid-19.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

Have a question, tip, or resources about the coronavirus pandemic? Submit it to our newsroom and we’ll do what we can to provide answers.