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The Judicial Emergency limits public access to the courts and interrupts some judicial functions.  Many courts are operating, accepting new cases, and issuing orders on cases.

The Supreme Court of Georgia declared the Judicial Emergency on March 14, 2020.  In that order, the Supreme Court directed all Georgia courts to limit proceedings and visitors to the courthouse to essential functions.  

In a series of orders issued between March 27, 2020 and March 31, 2020, the Supreme Court took unprecedented action to allow all courts in Georgia to use video conferencing to hold hearings and other proceedings.  The Court also ordered that attorneys may supervise and conduct real estate closing transactions by videoconference during the Judicial Emergency.

On April 6, 2020, the Supreme Court extended the Judicial Emergency to May 13, 2020 at 11:59pm.  The Supreme Court also urged all Georgia Courts to continue to move all cases forward, specifically including cases not deemed essential in the March 14, 2020 order. The Supreme Court further encouraged all courts to use teleconferencing and videoconferencing as much as possible.

On May 11, 2020, the Supreme Court extended the Judicial Emergency to June 12, 2020 at 11:59pm and make a number of significant modifications to the order.  While Jury trials remain suspended, all other Court business has been specifically allowed to resume as of May 11, 2020. In fact, the Supreme Court stated that Court should be using video conferencing and other technology to hold proceedings, and ordered that Courts may require attorneys and parties to use such measures to move cases forward.  In addition, individual Judges have been given the authority to reinstate and set deadlines in all cases. 

UPDATE: On June 12, 2020, the Supreme Court extended the Judicial Emergency to July 12, 2020 and made further modifications to the order.  The largest change was an announcement that on July 14, 2020, all deadlines in existing cases (except deadlines pertaining to jury trials) will resume state wide.  Further, the Court strongly encouraged individual Judges to issue orders reinstating deadlines in individual cases, and to handle as much judicial work as possible leading up to the July 14, 2020 deadline reinstatement.

Georgia Judicial Emergency FAQ

What is the judicial emergency?

Very few courts are closed entirely.  In fact, as a result of recent orders from the Supreme Court of Georgia, many courts are resuming more full judicial operations.   As a result of recent order from the Supreme Court of Georgia, all Georgia courts are authorized to hold hearings and other proceedings by videoconference.  We expect this to cause many more courts to return to more normal operations.

Are courts closed during the judicial emergency?

When does the judicial emergency end?

July 12, 2020 at 11:59pm, by order of the Supreme Court of Georgia on June 12, 2020.

Are courts still accepting cases during the judicial emergency?

Yes.  The many Georgia courts are accepting new filings and handling existing cases.  We expect this trend to increase as a result of recent orders issued by the Supreme Court of Georgia instructing courts to use videoconferencing for hearings and other proceedings.  

Throughout the Judicial Emergency, GPLG has continued to file documents in court on behalf of our clients by mail and electronic filing.  We have also continued to receive orders and other communication from the Courts during this time.

Can I go to court in person during the Judicial Emergency?

Generally speaking, no. There are some exceptions to this for cases considered essential, and the rules may vary by court and county.

Although courts have severely restricted in-person filing, almost all courts are still accepting filings by mail and/or e-filing. The GPLG team has continued to successfully file many documents on behalf of our clients.

No.  The Supreme Court of Georgia expressed concern about large judicial backlogs as a result of the Judicial Emergency and given courts the authority to continue to handle cases and move them forward.  If a backlog occurs, it could cause large delays in getting executors and administrators appointed and in resolving estate cases.  

As a result, we recommend opening the estate and handling estate matters without delay.

Should I wait to file a probate case?

Is GPLG operating during the Judicial Emergency?

Yes. Our first priority is the health and safety of our team and clients. The GPLG team is working remotely and fully functional. We are meeting with clients and potential clients by telephone and video.  

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