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MS Supreme Court releases emergency order related to Coronavirus

Released by the Administrative Office of  Courts:

Serial: 230781

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF MISSISSIPPI

No. 2020-AD-00001-SCT

IN RE: EMERGENCY ORDER RELATED TO
CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

EMERGENCY ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER

On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared a national emergency
due to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Supreme Court and the Chief
Justice, in his capacity as chief administrative officer of all courts in the state, find that
certain emergency actions as set forth hereinafter are required. Additionally, due to the
pandemic nature of this emergency and the rapidly changing circumstances, the Court
will continue to monitor this situation and may enter additional orders as necessary.
All courts are directed to prepare for potential infection in their communities. While
local judges and their staffs are in the best position to, with the assistance of attorneys,
measure risk, fears, and attitudes in their communities, this Court directs compliance with
the following guidelines to minimize public health risks from coronavirus (COVID-19).
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED:
1. In compliance with the Constitution, all state courts – municipal, justice, county,
chancery, circuit, and appellate courts – will remain open for business to ensure
courts fulfill their constitutional and statutory duties. See Miss. Const. Art. 3, §§
24, 25, 26, and 26A. Courts should continue normal business matters as much as
possible. Any orders from trial courts contrary to this Order are vacated to that
extent.
2. In compliance with the State Health Department, courts shall not permit aggregate
gatherings of over 200 people. Courts should consider the avoidance of any
proceedings that involve vulnerable persons or require witnesses or parties to
travel from an infected area, increasing the chances of transmission of the disease.
3. Individual judges have discretion to control their general dockets and are
authorized to instruct their clerks that jury summonses may not be sent to jurors
which would be returnable to any date prior to April 13, 2020.

Electronic Document Mar 13 2020 17:40:33 2020-AD-00001-SCT Pages: 3

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4. Individual judges have the discretion to postpone any trials on their own docket
scheduled through April 10, 2020.
5. Courts shall limit the number of people summoned for jury duty to the minimum
amount of persons necessary.
6. Jurors who have traveled to areas with a high concentration of confirmed
coronavirus cases shall contact the court before reporting for jury duty. Jurors who
have been diagnosed with an illness or who are primary caregivers for a vulnerable
person who has been diagnosed with an illness shall contact the court by
telephone. They shall not come to the courthouse before speaking with court
personnel. Jurors who disregard this Order shall be immediately released and sent
home. Additionally, all attorneys and parties shall take the same precautions.
7. All court proceedings shall be limited to attorneys, parties, witnesses, security
officers, members of the press, and other necessary persons, as determined by the
trial judge.
8. The trial courts are hereby authorized to exercise their sound discretion in
extending deadlines, rescheduling hearings and trials and any other matters by case
specific actions or by general orders.
9. Each judge conducting drug intervention courts is authorized to modify the
scheduling of drug testing and home-supervision visits for the next 30 days as they
see fit.
10. Courts shall communicate effectively with the local bar, local officials, the public,
and the state.
11. The payment and/reimbursement of out-of-state travel is suspended for judicial
employees and judges.
12. Courts are encouraged to work with those responsible for cleaning and maintaining
courthouses to ensure compliance with enhanced cleaning requirements. Although
not confirmed it has been reported that COVID-19 can remain in the air for up to
three hours and live on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to three
days, copper surfaces four hours, and cardboard for up to twenty-four hours.
13. Visitors to all courthouses shall follow the recommendations of health officials to
protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19. Those include
washing hands frequently with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds and
maintaining a safe social distance from others.

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14. For current information, stay aware of statewide updates. See
https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,0,420.html and
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
It is the Judiciary’s responsibility to ensure constitutional rights are protected in a
manner consistent with the general welfare and health of the citizens of this State. This
Order may be amended, extended, or otherwise modified as circumstances dictate.

SO ORDERED

(Digital signature of Chief Justice Michael K. Randolph attached)