Georgia high court resuming in-person proceedings, reimposing grand jury deadlines

Georgia Supreme Court building
Georgia Supreme Court building(Georgia Supreme Court)
Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 12:06 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - Georgia’s highest court plans to resume in-person hearings after more than a year of remote proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Justice Harold Melton announced that the nine justices of the Georgia Supreme Court will be back in their courtroom in downtown Atlanta for oral arguments starting June 9.

Oral arguments moved online after Melton first declared a statewide judicial emergency in March 2020.

“Although the Statewide Judicial Emergency remains in place, this is yet another step in our court system’s return to robust court operations,” Melton said in a statement.

Public health protocols will be in place for the in-person proceedings.

The nine justices, who all have been fully vaccinated, will wear masks throughout the session, as will all other persons in the courtroom, although attorneys arguing before the court may remove their masks at the podium, if they so choose.

Although the courtroom gallery normally accommodates 154 persons, with social distancing, the number will be limited to 34, including members of the public, co-counsel, parties, and media representatives. All will be expected to wear masks over their noses and mouths and maintain social distancing.

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Under an order signed by Melton, deadlines will be reimposed on prosecutors for presenting cases to the grand jury involving detained adults and juveniles. State law requires that any adult who is arrested for a crime and refused bail must have the charges presented to a grand jury within 90 days of the person’s confinement; for any juvenile charged with such a serious crime that the case is under the jurisdiction of a superior court rather than juvenile court, the deadline for presenting the case is 180 days from the juvenile’s detention. Throughout the pandemic, those deadlines were suspended because in-person grand jury proceedings were nearly all suspended.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and The Associated Press