Information About Court Closings and Coronavirus Social Distancing
(These Notes Have been Updated on March 25, 2020, April 3, 2020, April 16, 2020, May 18, 2020, May 21, 2020, August 4, 2020)
On October 28, The Forsyth County Courthouse reported an outbreak of Covid 19 within different departments. The courthouse has been closed until November 12, 2020 to protect staff and the public.
Since the middle of March, attorneys and court systems have been creating novel ways of continuing to provide essential services to clients in an unprecedented time of limitation and change. Technology allows lawyers to continue to practice law and provide continuing legal representation to people who need legal services. At Stroud & Panetti, we are learning to implement as many tools as we can to help our clients know we are on the job and that their matters continue to be handled.
In the family law arena, we know that divorced and separated families are being confronted with new questions and concerns that require patience, courtesy, and creativity to resolve. In our elder law and estate planning practices, we understand the tension and sense of urgency people are feeling. Even though we cannot sit across from each other while your matters are being addressed, we are prepared to help you through all of these things.
Though certain elements of the business community are beginning to reopen in North Carolina, the Court System is hypervigilant to matters of community health and welfare. The courts will continue with limited operation through the end of July but the Chief Justice’s May 21 order prescribes emergency directives for public appearance in court and jury trials. Much of this does not affect the way our firm’s clients will interact with the legal system. In the interim, our firm will continue to observe social distancing for the safety of our staff and our clients, and to make any required appearance that may occur on behalf of our clients.
Some ongoing notes from the rolling directives this spring include:
- We are working, are available to speak with you, and are handling your matter.
- We are taking steps to minimize exposure potential for you as well as for us.
- We are providing telephone and teleconferences for all initial client consultations.
- We will provide any documents you need electronically.
- We arrange to ensure that your documents can be executed and notarized when that is required.
- For any matter scheduled to be heard in court, a new court date will be scheduled by our clerk’s office or by us. We will notify you when a new court date is set.
Documents deadlines have been extended until June 1, 2020. The Chief Justices’ emergency directives of May 21, 2020 provide additional filing directives for lawyers and unrepresented litigants.
- For emergency matters, we can still ask a judge for relief. If you have an emergency, we are available, and the courts are available. The Chief Justice has instructed “… the spirit of my order is to drastically reduce the foot traffic in all of our courthouses across the state. … Put simply, it cannot be business as usual for our court system. Non-essential court functions that cannot be accomplished through the use of remote technology must be postponed.”
- Below is a list of the North Carolina Supreme Court’s directives regarding COVID-19 and other helpful information:
- Read the Supreme Court Order – May 21, 2020
- Read the Supreme Court Order – April 2, 2020
- Read the Supreme Court Order – March 27, 2020
- Read the Supreme Court Order – March 19, 2020
- Read the Memo – March 15, 2020
- Read the Supreme Court Order – March 13, 2020
- FAQs about How the Courts are Operating during the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Online court services
To minimize disruptions and continue to serve you as planned, we are adopting the following plan for the foreseeable future:
- As stated above, only telephone meetings except for matters which require execution of documents before our notary. For most documents, we will give you the option of coming here or of making use of a notary more convenient to you.
- If you need to make a Last Will and Testament, we are here to help you with that process. Attesting to your will requires that it be signed in the presence of two witnesses, before a notary public. This requires your exposure to a minimum of three other people and their exposure to you. Please call us, and we will discuss the safest and best approach for you and us.
- If at any point you have any health concerns, please call us to set a telephone meeting or to change any appointment you have until you feel you are able to travel to us.
- Minimizing exposure is the key to slowing disease progression so if you have to come in, please do not bring children, other family members, or friends with you to your appointment.
We are trying to keep everyone else safe while continuing to serve your needs. Please be patient with us if it takes longer to reach us or to hear back from us during these unusual times.
USE OUR CONTACT FORM
If you have any questions, your best option is to reach us through email or to leave a message in our voicemail. Our response times are going to go up but we will endeavor to reach you as soon as is possible.
The attorneys and staff of Stroud and Panetti, P.C.