Miss. Supreme Court says courts must remain open while taking safety precautions

Miss. Supreme Court says courts must remain open while taking safety precautions
Supreme court meets to keep courts open (Source: Mississippi Supreme Court)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered that courts must remain open for business while taking appropriate steps to protect public health and safety in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seven members of the Mississippi Supreme Court gathered in a large conference room on Thursday with two more participating via teleconference as the state’s highest court continued to deal with how to keep all courts open while protecting public health and safety.

On March 13 the Court issued seven emergency orders regarding court operations related to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, and more orders are expected.

The March 13 first Emergency Administrative Order said, in part, “In compliance with the Constitution, all state courts – municipal, justice, county, chancery, circuit, and appellate courts – will remain open for business to ensure courts fulfill their constitutional and statutory duties. See Miss. Const. Art. 3, §§ 24, 25, 26, and 26A. Courts should continue normal business matters as much as possible.”

The Supreme Court in subsequent orders repeated the Constitutional requirement to keep courts open while taking steps to protect people and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The order allows each court to decide for themselves how to proceed.

The Supreme Court has ordered that some proceedings cannot be delayed.

In Emergency Administrative Order 5 issued March 20 it states which in-person proceedings that must go forward without postponement:

  • Jury trials currently in progress.
  • Department of Child Protection Services emergency matters related to child protection.
  • Proceedings directly related to:
  • Protecting the constitutional rights of all persons;
  • Habeas corpus;
  • Emergency child-custody orders;
  • Relief from abuse and orders of protection;
  • Mandatory youth court detention hearings for youth held in custody;
  • Emergency mental-health orders;
  • Emergency protection of elderly or vulnerable persons;
  • Petitions for temporary injunctive relief;
  • Issues involving the COVID-19 public-health emergency;
  • Obtaining arrest and search warrants, and other proceedings required by law enforcement;
  • Ensuring the Mississippi Judiciary has met its constitutional requirements.
  • Any other emergency and time-sensitive matters, in the discretion of individual judges.

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