FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Supreme Court has issued new mandates in how courts should operate as nearly all of Kentucky's 120 counties are in the COVID-19 red zone, which includes postponing all civil and criminal jury trials until after February 1, 2021.
In an email to court personnel, Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. said court activities should be restricted to protect the public and court staff from exposure to the virus.
"As I've said many times over the last few months, one of our guiding truths has been the involuntary nature of most court proceedings," he said. "People can choose whether to eat at a restaurant or go shopping, but in most instances they don't get to choose whether they go to court. We have a responsibility to do all we can to keep people from being exposed to a potentially fatal virus."
The Supreme Court has amended two orders to limit in-person proceedings and restrict access to judicial facilities. The first, Administrative Order 2020-71, replaces Administrative Order 2020-63 in its entirety. The second, Administrative Order 2020-72, replaces Administrative Order 2020-64 in its entirety. Both orders will become effective Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, and pertain to all 120 counties.
The new orders adopt as mandates many of the recommendations announced on Oct. 29, 2020, as counties began moving into the red zone. These including the following:
- Limiting entrance to judicial facilities.
- Requiring remote hearings in all proceedings, except as specified in Administrative Order 2020-71.
- Postponing all jury trials until Feb. 1, 2021.
- Requiring grand juries to either be conducted remotely or suspended.
- Postponing all show cause dockets until Feb. 1, 2021.
- Requiring judicial sales to be conducted either remotely or outside and in accordance with CDC guidelines.
In-custody criminal trials will take priority over all other matters.
"The good news is that a vaccine is on the horizon and we're starting to see a path out of this deep crisis," Chief Justice Minton said. "In the meantime, we must continue to ensure justice for the commonwealth while protecting the health of our employees and the public."