Pandemic-related administrative orders

In this section, we are providing selected examples that highlight particular areas courts are addressing with their administrative orders related to COVID-19. These are only a sample of all orders. Courts are issuing new orders daily. Check back frequently for more.

  • Alabama Supreme Court 3-13-2020 Exceptions to this suspension of in-person court proceedings include, but are not limited to…Proceedings related to protection from abuse. Proceedings related to emergency child custody and protection orders. Department of Human Resources emergency matters related to child protection.
  • Alabama Supreme Court 3-16-2020 The following proceedings or matters statewide be added to the (March 13 list) …Termination of Parental Rights. Delinquent child 72-hour detention and shelter-care hearings. Proceedings necessary to protect children who are alleged to be a dependent child or a child-in-need-of-supervision, specifically 72-hour shelter-care hearings.
  • Alaska Chief Justice 3-19-2020: Beginning March 23, 2020, all superior court and district court proceedings are suspended through April 3, except the following priority hearings…CINA temporary custody and permanency hearings. CINA hearings for review of secure residential psychiatric placement. Juvenile delinquency arraignment and detention hearings. Temporary guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.
  • Colorado Chief Justice 3-16-2020: I also order that the following classes of matters or operations may not be suspended and will continue in the state courts through this period…Detention hearings for juvenile cases. Shelter hearings in dependency and neglect cases or other juvenile proceedings. Petitions for appointment of an emergency guardian and/or special conservator.
  • Connecticut Judicial Branch 3-12-2020: Under the terms and provisions of the Judicial Branch’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), the courts will schedule and hear only those matters identified as “Priority 1 Business Functions” until further notice…Juvenile Detention hearings. Family orders of relief from abuse. Orders of temporary custody (Juvenile Matters). Orders to appear (Juvenile Matters). Emergency ex parte order of temporary custody. Juvenile detention operations for detainees held for juvenile court. Termination of parental rights.
  • Delaware Family Order 3-23-2020: Family Court will continue to address emergency requests for Protection from Abuse Orders and emergency child welfare, custody, visitation, and guardianship matters. Family Court also anticipates conducting limited adult criminal and juvenile delinquency matters.
  • Florida Chief Justice 3-17-2020: All circuit and county courts shall continue to perform essential court proceedings, including but not limited to…juvenile dependency shelter hearings; juvenile delinquency detention hearings; hearings on petitions for temporary injunctions relating to safety of an individual…hearings on petitions for the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian…
  • Kansas Chief Justice 3-18-2020: Conducting juvenile detention hearing…issuing warrants for juvenile offenders… Issuing ex parte orders for CINC…  Issuing ex parte orders for violation of a valid court order in CINC proceedings…Conducting preliminary hearings on violation of a valid court order in CINC proceedings…Conducting evidentiary hearings on violation of a valid court order in CINC proceedings…Conducting temporary custody hearing…
  • Louisiana Supreme Court 3-26-2020: Except as otherwise provided herein, all civil trials, hearings and court appearances set for any date between the date of this Order and March 27, 2020 are hereby continued to a date to be reset by local order, except for hearings related to the following…child in need of care proceedings, emergency child custody matters, proceedings for children removed from their home by emergency court order… criminal initial appearances for…juveniles…
  • Maine Supreme Judicial Court 3-13-2020 (as revised 3-18-2020): The courts WILL schedule and hear only the following…juvenile detention hearings, child protection petitions and hearings, emergency guardianships
  • Maine Trial Court Chief Justices 3-30-2020 PMO-TC-1: PMO-TC-1(C). ORDER REGARDING CHILD PROTECTION PROCEEDINGS. The Maine Judicial Branch continues to monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The following procedures for child protection proceedings will apply, effective immediately, and until further order of the court [see order for specific details]
  • Maine Supreme Judicial Court 3-30-2020: Only petitions, applications, complaints, motions, and reports in the following case types may be filed by email…Juvenile Docket…Child Protection Dockets… Guardianship of Minor Dockets [see order for specific document types under each Docket]
  • Maine Supreme Judicial Court 3-30-2020 PMO-SJC-1: The courts WILL schedule and hear only the following…Juvenile detention hearings…Child Protection petitions and hearings - Hearings are limited to Summary Preliminary Hearings and Jeopardy Hearings…Emergency guardianships

Arkansas (Chief Justice memo): Re: Preparation for Returning to In-Person Proceedings
To assist courts as they work to implement the recommendations, the Supreme Court created a task force o circuit and district judges to develop guidelines and recommendations that may be implemented during the transition to in-person proceedings. Attached is a document containing the initial recommendations. As additional information and resources become available it will be provided to you.
Florida (Supreme Court Order): In Re: Workgroup On The Continuity Of Court Opera

Florida (statewide): In Re: Workgroup On The Continuity Of Court Operations And Proceedings During And After Covid-19

Accordingly, the Workgroup on the Continuity of Court Operations and Proceedings During and After COVID-19 is hereby established to develop findings and recommendations on the continuation of all court operations and proceedings statewide in a manner that protects health and safety and that addresses each of the following phases of the pandemic: a) in-person contact is inadvisable, court facilities are effectively closed to the public, and in-person proceedings are rare; b) limited in-person contact is authorized for certain purposes and/or requires use of protective measures; c) in-person contact is more broadly authorized and protective measures are relaxed; and d) COVID-19 no longer presents a significant risk to public health and safety.

Montana (statewide): Memo from the Chief Justice, dated 4/22/2020

6. Judges must plan locally for returning to necessary jury trials. This planning should include consultation with the attorneys involved in the cases, local law enforcement, and local public health entities. Jury trials must be conducted in such a manner as to maintain social distance and protect the health of jurors and others coming in and out of buildings. At a minimum, courts must:
a. Manage voir dire beginning with enhanced questionnaires to identify those in the potentially at-risk category;
b. Excuse jurors in advance who may beat high-risk or have other appropriate reason to no report (lack of childcare, caring for a high-risk person,etc.);
c. Call jurors in smaller groups and space jurors throughout the building for voir dire;
d. Seat jurors in compliance with physical distancing during the trial and deliberations;
e. Limit any in-court spectators; and,
f. Make hand sanitizer and masks available to jurors and others in the courtroom.

North Dakota (East Central Judicial District): Implementation plan for transition back to regular court schedules

Pennsylvania (Supreme Court Order): Emergency Order Of Statewide Judicial Administration Applicable From May 1, 2020, Through June 1, 2020
To the extent they are not already in place, all court leaders MUST IMPLEMENT AND MAINTAlN procedures that restrict potential COVlD-19 exposure which could result from interactions of judges, court staff, and county agency staff among themselves and with or among members of the public present at court facilities. Among other measures, President Judges may restrict access to court facilities so that appropriate social distancing can be maintained. To the degree practicable in light of the necessity for some in—person appearances and proceedings, safety measures should be employed that are as consistent as possible with the federal and state executive guidance associated with countering the spread of the COVlD—19 virus. To the extent that hearings and conferences can be held in the presence of counsel only, the courts SHALL PERMlT the parties’ physical presence to be excused. In all events, any necessary in-person proceedings SHALL BE HELD in courtrooms designated by the individual courts of common pleas to minimize person-to person contact.

South Carolina (Chief Justice memo): RE: Court Operations During the Six Week Period, May 4 – June 12, 2020
In preparation for the anticipated resumption of normal court activity at some point in the near future, the Chief Judge for Administrative Purposes in each circuit for Common Pleas, General Sessions and Family Court should work with the Clerks of Court to create a comprehensive plan to schedule and dispose of all status conferences, pre-trial hearings, and pre-trial motions during this time. Additionally, judges may hear any non-jury matter currently pending. All local administrative orders must be approved by the Chief Justice and filed with Court Administration prior to implementation. Every judge not previously scheduled for vacation should operate on a normal schedule.

Texas (Supreme Court Order): Twelfth Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster
Courts must not conduct in-person proceedings contrary to guidance issued by the ffice of Court Administration regarding social distancing, maximum group size, and other restrictions and precautions. Courts should use all reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely.

Wisconsin (Chief Justice order): Wisconsin Courts COVID-19 Task Force created

  • Alabama Supreme Court 3-13-2020 ("Exceptions to this suspension of in-person court proceedings include…Proceedings related to protection from abuse…Orders of protection and temporary injunctions that otherwise expire between March 16, 2020, and April 16, are hereby extended until April 16, 2020, unless the court elects to enter an order to the contrary.")
  • Connecticut Judiciary 3-19-2020 ("Under the terms and provisions of the Judicial Branch’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), the courts will schedule and hear only those matters identified as "Priority 1 Business Functions"...Family orders of relief from abuse; Civil orders of relief from abuse; Civil protection orders…")

  • Maryland Chief Judge 3-18-2020 (" Those foreclosures of residential properties and foreclosures of the rights of redemption of residential properties pending in the circuit courts shall be stayed effective immediately…Residential eviction matters pending in the District Court of Maryland and all pending residential eviction orders shall be stayed effective immediately…New foreclosure of residential property, foreclosure of rights of redemption after a tax sale, and residential evictions shall be stayed upon filing…")
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court 3-18-2020 ("In light of these circumstances, it is further DIRECTED that, during the period encompassed by this Order or the judicial emergency, whichever is longer, no officer, official, or other person employed by the Pennsylvania Judiciary at any level shall effectuate an eviction, ejectment, or other displacement from a residence based upon the failure to make a rent, loan, or other similar payment. Nothing herein is intended to preclude requests for orders of possession resulting from judgments entered in landlord-tenant actions to be filed by mail. However, any execution on an order of possession is stayed to a date on or after April 3, 2020, subject to further orders.")

  • Alabama Supreme Court 3-13-2020 ("The local and state courts of the State of Alabama are open and will remain open under all circumstances, subject to the provisions of this order…All in-person proceedings in all state and local courts in Alabama, including, but not limited to, proceedings in the circuit court, district court (including cases on the small claims docket), juvenile court, municipal court, probate court , and appellate courts, are suspended beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 through Thursday, April 16, 2020, subject to the exceptions below…")
  • Arkansas Supreme Court 3-17-2020 ("The courts of the State of Arkansas shall remain open. Nevertheless, pursuant to this Court’s constitutional superintending authority to supervise the administration of the state judicial system, the Supreme Court of Arkansas hereby suspends all in-person proceedings in all appellate, circuit, and distict courts, subject to the exceptions in this order…")

Harris County Criminal District Court Trial Division 3-20-2020 Effective immediately, upon identification by the Harris County District Attorney's Office and before the matter is placed on the Hearing Officers' docket, Harris County Pretrial Services is ORDERED to process the immediate release of the following persons under this General Order Bond to be supervised by Pretrial Services…

Ramsey County 3-19-2020

A. The November 29, 2018 Order Delegating Certain Judicial Release Authority to Project Remand is hereby expanded to delegate judicial certain release authority to the Ramsey County Sheriff during the pendency of this order, pursuant to Rule 6.02, subd. 1, of the Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure, in the circumstances described below.

B. Defendants arrested on a probation violation warrant or warrant for failing to appear at sentencing shall not be considered for release pursuant to this Order.

C. The Ramsey County Sheriff is authorized to release a Defendant without bail, bond, or conditions of release as follows [conditions listed]

Ramsey County 3-22-2020

Notwithstanding the terms of a defendant's current warrant of commitment, Ramsey County Correctional Facility Staff are authorized to release defendants on Electronic Home Monitoring as follows:

1. All Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor offenses with the exception of [exceptions listed]

2. Felony offenses as follows [offenses listed]

3. Any defendant who does not qualify for release under paragraphs 1 and 2 above, may be placed on Electronic Home Monitoring as follows: [conditions listed]

Sacramento Superior Court 3-25-2020 Because the parties agree that it is in the best interest of public health to reduce the population of the Sacramento County Jail System, and pursuant to Penal Code section 4004, the court finds good cause to order the Sacramento County Sheriff to utilize the authority granted in California Government Code section 8658 and Health and Safety Code sections 101029 and 120155, to release all confined persons identified and discussed herein who are serving county jail commitments with 60 actual days or less remaining on their sentence, condition of confinement, or other custody requirement from the date of this Order (March 25, 2020).

Spokane Municipal 3-16-2020

1. The Court having considered the emergency declaration by Spokane County Detention services, considered the input of counsel for the plaintiff and any counsel of record for the defendant, hereby orders that:

a. All defendants currently serving post adjudication sentences on cases identified on Appendix A, which is attached hereto and by this reference in hereby incorporated in this order as if fully set forth herein, are ordered furloughed from custody until further order of the Court.

b. The Clerk of the Court is directed to generate Commitment Orders reflecting the terms of this emergency order, set a sentence review hearing for each relevant cause number, generate a Notice of Case Setting for each review hearing so set, and provide such documents to Detention Services.

c. Prior to release from custody, Detention Services is directed to obtain updated contact information from the defendant and to give the defendant the Notice of Case Setting(s) provided by the Clerk of the Court.

2. All defendants currently held on bail on cases identified on Appendix B which is attached hereto and by this reference in hereby incorporated in this order as if fully set forth herein, are ordered released on their own recognizance, subject to the conditions that the defendant commit no criminal law violations, appear at all future court hearings, and keep in telephonic contact with his or her attorney on a weekly basis.

  • Alaska Temporary Presiding Judge Administrative Order 3-27-2020: Misdemeanor Offenses Not Specified Above: Defendants arrested for misdemeanors or violations not specified above are to be released on their own recognizance (OR) subject to the provisions in the Sections of the Temporary Order addressing conditions of release and the setting the defendant's next court appearance.

  • California Judicial Council (order) 4-6-2020: Under the statewide Emergency Bail Schedule, bail for all misdemeanor and felony offenses must be set at $0, with the exception of only the offenses listed below [exceptions listed]

  • Kentucky Chief Justice (letter) 3-20-2020: "As we take aggressive steps to ensure social distancing in our judicial facilities, Kentucky’s overcrowded jails desperately need our attention. State and national media outlets are sounding the alarm about what a COVID-19 outbreak would do to inmates and jail staff and the law enforcement officers who come into contact with them. Much like nursing homes, jails are susceptible to worse-case scenarios due to the close proximity of people and the number of pre-existing conditions…We know what a potential disaster this could be and it’s our responsibility to work with jailers and other county officials to safely release as many defendants as we can as quickly as we can."

  • Kentucky Supreme Court (Order) 4-23-2020: "Except for the offenses included Appendix A, the following emergency administrative release schedule shall be im May 31, 2020, to expedite the release of certain defendants..."
  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Order) 4-3-2020: "Due to the crisis engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic, pretrial detainees who have not been charged with an excluded offense as set forth in Appendix A are entitled to a rebuttable presumption of release on personal recognizance, and a hearing within two business days of filing a motion for reconsideration of bail and release, in accordance with the procedures set forth in this opinion. The special master shall report weekly to this court, as set forth in this opinion, in order to facilitate any further response necessary as a result of this rapidly-evolving situation."

  • Michigan Joint Statement by Chief Justice and Executive Director, Michigan Sheriffs’ Association 3-26-2020Judges should coordinate with law enforcement and prosecutors about expanding the use of appearance citations and summons (when appropriate and legally permissible) rather than custodial arrests and arrest warrants.

  • Mississippi Supreme Court (Order) 4-23-2020: "(A) Within seven (7) days of th the official(s) having custody of pre-trial detainees shall provide the senior circuit attorney, the clerk of the circuit court, and the local senior public defender the na detainees in their custody, the charge(s) upon which they are being held, and the recently taken into custody.
    (B) Within fourteen (14) days of the entry of this Order, the senior circuit judge, o the senior circuit judge designates, shall review the conditions of release for ever who is eligible for bail. The real or potential impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) w detention center may be a consideration when reviewing such conditions of rele
  • Montana Chief Justice (letter) 3-20-2020: "[w]e ask that you [Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Judges] review your jail rosters and release, without bond, as many prisoners as you are able, especially those being held for non-violence offenses."

  • New Jersey Supreme Court 3-22-2020: "No later than 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, except as provided in paragraph C, any inmate currently serving a county jail sentence (1) as a condition of probation, or (2) as a result of a municipal court conviction, shall be ordered released."

  • Ohio Supreme Court (Guidance) 3-20-2020:
    * Use discretion to release individuals held in jail.
    * Release incarcerated individuals who are in a high-risk category for being infected with the virus (e.g., the elderly, those with asthma, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes) unless there is clear and convincing evidence that release would present a substantial risk of harm.
    * For individuals incarcerated for non-violent misdemeanor offenses, release and place them on community-control sanctions, including GPS or
    electronic monitoring, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that release would present a substantial risk of harm.

  • Oregon Chief Justice (Order) 3-27-2020: "Each Presiding Judge should work with the local district attorney’s office, criminal defense attorneys, sheriff’s office, and community corrections department or other agency to identify persons housed in their jails who can be safely released or are eligible for release, including release under ORS 137.520 and ORS 137.750, for the purpose of managing the jail population by reducing those jail populations."

  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court (Per Curiam Order) 4-3-2020: "We DIRECT the President Judges of each judicial district to coordinate with relevant county stakeholders to ensure that the county correctional institutions in their districts address the threat of COVID-19, applying the recommendations of public health officials, including the CDC’s Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities (Mar. 23, 2020). If utilization of public health best practices is not feasible due to the population of the county correctional institutions, President Judges should consult with relevant county stakeholders to identify individuals and/or classes of incarcerated persons for potential release or transfer to reduce the current and future populations of the institutions during this health crisis with careful regard for the safety of victims and their communities in general, with awareness of the statutory rights of victims, and with due consideration given to public health concerns related to inmates who may have contracted COVID-19. Moreover, consistent with these above considerations, President Judges are to undertake efforts to limit the introduction of new inmates into the county prison system."

  • South Carolina Chief Justice 3-16-2020: “Any person charged with a non-capital crime shall be ordered released pending trial on his own recognizance without surety, unless an unreasonable danger to the community will result or the accused is an extreme flight risk...At a minimum, bond hearings should be held at least once per day...If a defendant has been in jail as a pre-trial detainee for the maximum possible sentence, the court shall convert the bond to a personal recognizance bond and release the defendant.”

  • Tennessee Supreme Court 3-25-2020: "The presiding judge or the designee of the presiding judge of each judicial district shall develop a written plan to affirmatively address issues regarding the incarceration of nonviolent offenders in furtherance of efforts to reduce the jail population, including but not limited to bond reductions or eliminations, deferred sentences, and suspended sentences. The presiding judge or the designee of the presiding judge of each judicial district shall submit its plan to the Administrative Office of the Courts by the close of business on Monday, March 30, 2020, absent an extension granted by the Chief Justice."

  • Washington Supreme Court 4-10-2020: "The Court directs the Governor and [S Washington State Department of Corrections Steven] Sinclair to immediately exe to take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of the named petitione Department of Corrections inmates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and t in writing no later than noon on Monday, April 13, 2020, all steps that have been taken and their emergency plan for implementation. The underlying mandamus p will be heard with oral argument as scheduled on April 23, 2020."

  • Alabama Supreme Court 3-13-2020 ("Nevertheless , all judges and court clerks are urged to limit in- person courtroom contact as much  as possible by utilizing available technologies , including electronic filing , teleconferencing , and videoconferencing . Any Alabama state or local rule , criminal or civil , that impedes a judge ' s or court clerk ' s ability to utilize available technologies to limit in- person contact is suspended until April 16 , 2020 .")
  • Arkansas Supreme Court 3-17-2020 ("All judges and court clerks are encouraged to utilize all available technologies including facsimile machines, e-mail, teleconferencing, and video conferencing-to continue handling judicial matters and further limit in-person courtroom appearances. Any criminal or civil rules that would impede a court clerk or judge's ability to utilize such technologies are hereby suspended until Friday, April 3, 2020, and may be extended by order of this court as circumstances may warrant."

  • North Carolina Chief Justice 3-13-2020 ("I further order that the clerks of superior court shall post a notice at the entrance to every court facility in their county directing that any person who has likely been exposed to COVID-19 should not enter the courthouse…")
  • Oklahoma Supreme Court 3-16-2020 ("The following persons are prohibited from entering any courtroom, court clerk's office, judges' offices, jury room or other facility used by the district courts [persons listed]…")

  • Delaware Superior Court 3-15-2020 ("All Civil and Criminal Jury Trials are suspended through and including April 15, 2020. Petit jury duty is suspended through and including April 15, 2020. Individuals summoned for petit jury duty during this time period are excused and should not appear. Grand Jurors should report as directed.")
  • Hawaii Supreme Court 3-16-2020 ("All ongoing trials will be postponed to a date after Thursday, April 30, 2020…Civil trials and hearings will be postponed to a date after Thursday April 30, 2020… To the extent reasonably possible, criminal trials, grand jury proceedings, and hearings will be postponed to a date after Thursday, April 30, 2020…")