In re Response to COVID-19 Pandemic, 031720 ARSC

Opinion JudgePER CURIAM
Judge PanelJohn Dan Kemp, Chief Justice
Case DateMarch 17, 2020
CourtSupreme Court of Arkansas

2020 Ark. 116


Supreme Court of Arkansas

March 17, 2020


In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Arkansas is implementing emergency precautions to help protect the public from unnecessary risks. On March 11, 2020, Governor Hutchinson declared a public health emergency for our state. On March 13, 2020, a national emergency was declared following the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic. On March 15, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against gatherings in groups of 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks. The President's March 16, 2020, guidelines call for the public to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people for the next 15 days. In response, the Supreme Court of Arkansas announces the implementation of the following precautionary measures to combat the spread of the disease to the public and the employees of the Arkansas judiciary.

The courts of the State of Arkansas shall remain open. Nevertheless, pursuant to this Court's constitutional superintending authority to supervise the administration of the state judicial system, the Supreme Court of Arkansas hereby suspends all in-person proceedings in all appellate, circuit, and district courts, subject to the exceptions in this order. The suspension will last from Wednesday, March 18, 2020, through Friday, April 3, 2020, and may be adjusted by order of this court as circumstances warrant.

The suspension of in-person judicial proceedings is subject to the following exceptions: • Proceedings necessary to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants and juveniles, including, but not limited to, criminal initial appearances; probable-cause hearings; speedy trial; cases in which victims are under fourteen years of age; juvenile probable cause hearings; juvenile detention hearings; and hearings on writs of habeas corpus;

• Proceedings in which civil or criminal jury trials are already in progress as of March 17, 2020;

• Proceedings pertaining to relief from abuse, including but not limited to, orders of protection;

• Proceedings related to emergency child custody orders;

• Proceedings related to probable cause, emergency child placement, and ICWA in dependency-neglect proceedings;

• Proceedings related to petitions for temporary restraining orders or other forms of temporary injunctive relief;

• Proceedings related to adult protective services and emergency mental health orders;

• Proceedings for emergency guardianship or conservatorship;

• Proceedings directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency;

• Oral arguments regarding time-sensitive matters; and

• Other exceptions approved by the Chief Justice.

Judges shall be...

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