Alamance County’s courthouses will be open to the public for four hours per day, starting this week.
The reduced hours of operation for Alamance County’s courthouses are currently scheduled to remain in effect until June 1, based on a new order that North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley issued last Friday, hoping to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. She had initially issued an order in mid-March that required most district and superior court cases to be continued until after April 16.
Through May 31, the clerk’s office will be open at the J.B. Allen Criminal Courthouse at 212 West Elm Street in Graham from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, for payments and inquiries. The clerk’s office will be open at the Alamance County Historic Courthouse from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, to handle inquiries and accept new filings and/or payments, Alamance County clerk of superior court Meredith Edwards announced this week.
Staff will be available in the clerk’s office to answer questions by phone and email between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays while Beasley’s latest order remains in effect. Her order outlines seven “emergency directives” that prompted the reduction in the number of hours that Alamance County’s courthouses will be open to the public (see related story, this edition).
Alamance County Clerk of Superior Court
The clerk of court’s office will conduct guardianship and involuntary commitment hearings – as needed and determined by the clerk of court – including via video testimony. Estate administration matters will be conducted, although any in-person meetings will be subject to “health precautions” as determined by the clerk. Estate and special proceeding hearings will be postponed for 30 days unless the parties involved consent to remote hearings.
All jury matters have been canceled for the next 30 days.
New small claims filings, including evictions, complaints for money owed, and other pending matters have been postponed until after April 16, according to the latest announcement from the clerk’s office.
Criminal district court
The morning sessions in Alamance County criminal district court will continue to be held at their regularly-scheduled times, 9:00 a.m., Monday through Friday.
However, cases that will be heard during the morning session in criminal district court are limited to the following: probation hearings for defendants who are currently in custody; scheduled cases with in-custody defendants; bond motions; and probable cause hearings.
Afternoon sessions in criminal district court will continue to be held Monday through Friday but are limited to: felony first appearances; first appearances in domestic violence cases; and bond hearings.
There will be no hearings for the following types of motions: to strike orders for arrest; to set aside or hear bond forfeitures; to strike failures to appear; for appropriate relief; or to return vehicles. There will be no hearings for “add-on” requests; and all hearings for defendants who are not currently in custody will be rescheduled.
Most traffic-related cases will be continued for eight weeks.
Criminal superior court
Criminal superior court sessions will continue to be held at their regularly-scheduled times, 10 a.m. on Monday and 9:30 a.m. for other weekdays.
However, hearings are being limited to the following: in-custody probation; pleas for defendants in custody; first appearances; bond motions; vehicle forfeiture matters, as scheduled; and any other hearings deemed necessary by Alamance County senior resident superior court judge Tom Lambeth, Jr.
Administrative court sessions that were scheduled for the week of March 16 have been postponed until the week of April 27; and administrative session that were scheduled for the week of April 13 have been postponed until the week of April 20.
The next grand jury session is scheduled to be convened on April 28, according to Edwards’ announcement.
Domestic violence, custody, child support, and juvenile matters
Ex parte motions and requests for domestic violence protective orders (DVPOs) and civil no-contact orders will continue to be heard daily. DVPOs without an ex parte order, motion to show cause, motion to modify/set aside, and/or motions for return of weapons may be continued beyond 30 days.
Alamance County’s district court judges will continue to hold daily hearings for time-sensitive ex parte matters such as motions for temporary restraining orders; custody motions; civil commitments; and juvenile medical orders; other related matters will be rescheduled.
Child support cases involving defendants who are in custody will continue to be heard on Fridays, in keeping with the current schedule for those matters, while other types of child support hearings will be rescheduled.
Motions for secured and non-secured custody will continue to be held in juvenile abuse, neglect, and dependency court on Wednesdays, in keeping with the current schedule for those matters; all other cases will be rescheduled beyond 30 days.
Juvenile delinquency hearings for defendants who are in secured custody; require a secured custody review; and/or are scheduled for first appearances will continue to be held on Tuesdays, as scheduled. The county’s Juvenile Delinquency Court will otherwise remain closed, and all other matters will be rescheduled beyond 30 days.
The Alamance County magistrate’s office will continue to be open 24 hours per day, seven days a week, to process arrest warrants; magistrate orders; criminal summonses; initial appearances; cash and property bonds; involuntary commitment orders; juvenile petitions; and secured and non-secured custody orders. The magistrate’s office will also continue to conduct initial appearances and wedding ceremonies.
Alamance County court officials are continuing to ask individuals who are experiencing flu-like symptoms or have had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus to refrain from coming to any of the county’s court buildings.