Ga. judicial emergency extension looks likely to be the last

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Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 11:49 AM EDT
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia’s chief justice again renewed the judicial emergency declaration issued more than a year ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he’s prepared for this to be the last extension.

Chief Justice Harold D. Melton first declared the emergency on March 14, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s been extended 14 times, with modifications.

Among the major recent adjustments, jury trials have resumed.

The order was set to expire at 11:59 Monday until it was extended.

“After consulting with the Judicial Council of Georgia and other judicial partners, and because the novel coronavirus continues to significantly affect Georgia’s judicial system, it is hereby determined that the Order should be extended again,” states the latest order.

However, it notes that the governor’s public health state of emergency may expire at 11:59 p.m. June 30.

So the new order is only being extended until that same time. And if the public health state of emergency expires before June 30, the judicial emergency will expire at the same time, Melton’s latest order states.

“We’ve been looking at the trend lines in the Governor’s public health emergency orders based on revised CDC guidelines and the decline in COVID-19 rates across the state. Because I am doubtful that the Governor will continue the public health emergency beyond June 30, 2021, I do not expect to issue another order extending beyond June 30 the Statewide Judicial Emergency that has been in place for nearly 15 months already,” Melton had said last week.

The order states that “courts and litigants should prepare for the expiration of the statewide judicial emergency.”

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