On May 26, 2020, the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) issued a second updated order outlining the Court’s plan for operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order goes into place on June 1, 2020 and it replaces the Court’s prior orders. While the Order extends deadlines further, it explicitly indicates that no further extensions will occur but for a surge in new COVID-19 cases.
On April 27, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a new order governing state court operations during the COVID-19 crisis. The order is effective May 4, and it repeals and replaces the Court’s prior orders.
What are the Courts doing to stop the spread?
The Supreme Judicial Court, the Probate and Family Courts, and the Superior Courts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have taken extraordinary measures to reduce the amount of foot traffic into our courthouses in order to help limit the spread of the virus. The Courts issued the following unprecedented, relevant Orders governing courthouse practices during this pandemic, effective March 18, 2020: Order in re: COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Standing Order 2-20: Court operations under the exigent circumstances created by COVID-19, andSuperior Court Standing Order 3-20: Protocol governing Superior Court proceedings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Within ten days’ time, our personal and professional worlds have been turned upside-down, and many have questions such as, “What happens now to my court case?”. As we adjust to a new “normal” in our homes and our workplaces, the courts, too, are adjusting to their new normal. Courts have issued orders to address COVID-19, ensuring that the wheels of justice do not come to a screeching halt, placing people’s rights in jeopardy. All court orders, from the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, and all Trial Courts can be found here.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal and state court systems have adjusted their policies and procedures to allow them to continue to handle ongoing cases and accept new matters. Here is a summary of the current status of the Massachusetts courts: