Charlotte Criminal Court is once again experiencing a COVID -19 outbreak among courthouse personnel. It is unclear whether those infected with the Coronavirus include Courtroom Clerks, Sheriff’s Department Officials, prosecutors, and/or criminal defense lawyers in Charlotte.
Some scheduled matters in Criminal Court in Charlotte (Mecklenburg County – the 26th Judicial District) on Monday, August 9, 2021, and Tuesday, August 10, 2021, will not take place in person.
If you have a pending criminal charge in Charlotte, whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor in Mecklenburg County, it’s a good idea to contact legal counsel immediately to determine whether an appearance is mandated and/or whether a case may be continued. Some matters requiring mandatory hearings per the NC Criminal Laws may proceed via remote, video hearings through WebEx.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Charlotte began receiving emails and texts yesterday afternoon (Sunday, August 8, 2021), warning of potential court closures due to the Coronavirus. By the end of the day, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Robert Bell and Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch were to establish a Local Administrative Order “addressing the closure.”
While everyone has been wearing masks in court in Charlotte and even with an already substantially reduced number of cases on the docket in Mecklenburg County, this is going to put a tremendous strain on the system – Bill Powers, Charlotte DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney
Who tested Positive?
Five courthouse personnel reportedly tested positive for the Coronavirus. No information is available at this time whether such positive tests were for the Delta Variant of COVID-19. Furthermore, “a number of others” have self-reported symptoms of the virus. Twenty-nine or more courtroom and/or courthouse personnel have therefore been directed to quarantine.
On Saturday, July 31, 2021, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department reported new COVID-19 problems and shut down certain jail visits for a period of time. Initial reports were that the entire jail facility in Charlotte was closed to visits.
A latter correction in the Charlotte Observer indicates the closure, which was temporary (48 hours), involved the “respiration isolation pod” only. It is further reported there were only three inmates in that pod subject to the lockdown. A resident of the Charlotte Juvenile Detention Center also reportedly tested positive for the Caronoavirus during screening upon admission for COVID-19.
What Charlotte Criminal Court is affected?
As stated, some proceedings (including certain criminal matters) will be heard via WebEx, the remote video conferencing APP used by the Charlotte Criminal Court system. Those may include but are not necessarily limited to:
- North Carolina General Statute Chapter 15A “First Appearance” hearings
- Probable Cause hearings for Felony Probation matters in Charlotte
- Secured Custody hearings in Juvenile Court subject to NCGS 7B-1906
Petitions for ex parte Protective Orders (50B – Domestic Violence Protective Orders) will be handled by a District Court Judge at the Mecklenburg County Jail “Public Window.” That procedure also applies to petitions for TRO – Temporary Restraining Orders (Injunctive Relief), and Non-Secure Custody Motions of a juvenile.
Where do I file a lawsuit in Charlotte?
Filing legal documents in Charlotte may be accomplished, during the COVID-19 shutdown, at the “secure receptacle” as designated by the Clerk of Court in Mecklenburg County. Filings may be also submitted by mail. ** Legal filings by mail may be subject to certain timing requirements and applicable Statutes of Limitation.
What about Jury Duty in Charlotte?
Jurors Ordered to appear on Monday, August 9, 2021 and Tuesday, August 10, 2021 are excused. No information is presently available on whether jury service in Mecklenburg County will be reset for those who have jury duty on August 9 and August 10, 2021.
Seated jurors are requested NOT to return to the courthouse until Wednesday, August 11, 2021 unless notified or receiving notice otherwise to return to jury duty. Read the Charlotte Criminal Court PRESS RELEASE HERE.
Senior court officials in Mecklenburg County are scheduled to again meet on Tuesday, August 10, 2021 together with the Mecklenburg County Health Director to review the full nature and extent of the COVID-19 outbreak. At that time it will be determined whether courts in Charlotte will again handling matters for disposition.