FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - As cases of the coronavirus continues to rise, and with nearly every one of Kentucky’s 120 counties now in the “red zone,” the Kentucky Supreme Court issued new mandates on Friday governing local court operations.
Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said in an email to court personnel that it is imperative to restrict court activities now to protect the public and court staff from exposure.
“As I’ve said many times over the last few months, one of our guiding truths has been the involuntary nature of most court proceedings,” he said. “People can choose whether to eat at a restaurant or go shopping, but in most instances, they don’t get to choose whether they go to court. We have a responsibility to do all we can to keep people from being exposed to a potentially fatal virus.”
To address the surging cases, the Supreme Court has amended two orders to limit in-person proceedings and restrict access to judicial facilities, both of which will become effective on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, and pertain to all 120 counties.
The new orders adopt as mandates many of the recommendations announced in October, as counties began moving into the red zone. These including the following:
-- Limiting entrance to judicial facilities.
--Requiring remote hearings in all proceedings, except for emergency and time sensitive matters such as domestic violence hearings, emergency custody hearings, temporary child support hearings, evidentiary hearings in criminal cases, in-custody arraignments, in-custody preliminary hearings, in-custody bond motions, in-custody probation violation hearings, and in-custody juvenile detention hearings.
--Postponing all jury trials until Feb. 1, 2021.
--Requiring grand juries to either be conducted remotely or suspended.
--Postponing all show cause dockets until Feb. 1, 2021.
--Requiring judicial sales to be conducted either remotely or outside, and in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Chief Justice Minton thanked court personnel for their continued patience and steady leadership as the court system makes its way through what will be a difficult winter.
“The good news is that a vaccine is on the horizon and we’re starting to see a path out of this deep crisis,” he said. “In the meantime, we must continue to ensure justice for the commonwealth while protecting the health of our employees and the public.”
The mandates will remain in effect until further notice.