| Chief Justice Cheri Beasley issued an order on April 2, 2020, containing seven emergency directives. The order:
“Judicial officials and court personnel statewide are going above and beyond to serve the public during this health emergency,” said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. “My number one priority is to protect them and the public by limiting gatherings and foot traffic in our county courthouses, while making sure our courts stay available to serve the public.”
The April 2 order follows Governor Roy Cooper issuance of Executive Order 121 on March 27, 2020, directing all individuals in the state to stay in their place of residence subject to limited exceptions. North Carolina’s courts are a critical government function and are therefore exempt from the Order. Nevertheless, the courts are directed, to the extent practicable, to maintain social distancing requirements, including “facilitating online or remote access by customers if possible.”
With North Carolina’s COVID-19 infections expected to peak in late April, it is imperative that court operations remain as limited as possible through the next two months. Use of telecourt functions for a wider range of hearings will alleviate the growing backlog in the court system and ensure that courts continue protecting constitutional rights and the safety of North Carolina’s most vulnerable people. Efforts to further leverage technology, including through electronic filing and additional online services continue to move forward as well.
The Chief Justice’s order also extends the time for payment for court debts in traffic and criminal cases for 90 days and suspends reporting of failures to pay to the DMV.
“We want people to know that they do not need to come to the courthouse right now to pay a traffic ticket,” said the Chief Justice. “Deadlines for those payments have been extended and licenses will not be suspended until this emergency passes. We want people staying at home and staying safe.”
Traffic tickets and some other fees can still be paid at NCcourts.gov. The public can also sign up there for text reminders for rescheduled court dates.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has taken several other emergency steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus:
- On March 13, Chief Justice Beasley issued two emergency directives postponing most cases in superior and district courts for 30 days and instructing local officials to take steps to limit the risk of exposure in courthouses
- On March 15, 2020, Chief Justice Beasley issued a memo providing guidance to local judges, clerks, and district attorneys as they worked to implement earlier directives. The memo allowed for the public and court personnel to practice social distancing and other preventative measures recommended by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control
- Chief Justice Beasley issued an additional emergency step on March 19, 2020, when she issued an order that extended deadlines in the trial courts until April 17, 2020
- On March 27, the Supreme Court of North Carolina ordered an extension on all appellate court deadlines for 60 days.
In light of this rapidly evolving public health situation, the Judicial Branch will provide continuously updated information on our website, NCcourts.gov. The public is encouraged to visit NCcourts.gov as a first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse. If you have a question about your court case, please first view the county page in which the case is filed for any local announcements, as well as the closings and advisories page, then, if needed, contact the clerk of superior court office before you go to the courthouse. The public may also visit the Judicial Branch Facebook page and Twitter account to access information related to the coronavirus health concern.
Online court services are available for handling some court business, including citation services, paying your ticket, court payments, signing up for court date notifications and reminders, eFiling court documents for certain courts and case types, and more.
- Read the Supreme Court Order – April 2, 2020
- Read the Supreme Court Order – March 27, 2020
- Read the Supreme Court Order – March 19, 2020
- Read the Memo – March 15, 2020
- Read the Supreme Court Order – March 13, 2020
- FAQs about How the Courts are Operating during the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Online court services
About North Carolina Judicial Branch
The North Carolina Judicial Branch is an equal and distinctively separate branch and core function of government. More than 6,400 Judicial Branch employees statewide administer justice in courthouses in North Carolina’s 100 counties. The Judicial Branch budget for FY 2018–2019 was $553.2M, nearly 92% of which is used to pay salaries and the remaining 8% is used for operations. The Judicial Branch receives only 2.31% of the overall State budget.
About North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts
The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) is the administrative agency for the North Carolina Judicial Branch, providing administrative services to help the North Carolina court system operate more efficiently and effectively, taking into account each courthouse’s diverse needs, caseloads, and available resources.