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Ga. Supreme Court order puts trials on hold until at least February

Citing the “rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases,” Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton issued an order Wednesday, Dec. 23, prohibiting all jury trials, which is anticipated to continue until at least February.

Hall County court administrator Jason Stephenson said all January trials will be canceled, though the first two Superior Court trial weeks had already been canceled due to local hospitalizations and advice from District 2 Public Health.

Hall County Chief Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin signed a similar order Wednesday, saying the notice will be published online and in the courthouse.

“All courts are again urged to use technology when practicable and lawful to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings,” according to Melton’s order.

Melton’s order also reminds courts that in-person proceedings “must be conducted in full compliance with public health guidance.” It is the ninth extension of the original order March 14, which has closed down courts for months, prolonged jury trials and caused backlogs for judges and attorneys.

The new extension runs until 11:59 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8.

Hall County State Court previously delayed trials scheduled Jan. 25 to April 12, and a decision on the Feb. 1 trials will be made after the holidays, according to court officials.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners approved a request Dec. 10 to allow jury trials to happen at the North Hall Community Center.

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