by Robin Kemp

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton has extended the COVID-19 judicial emergency in the Clayton Judicial Circuit through July 12. A “tentative” return to “certain non-jury and grand jury matters” is set for Aug. 3.

Melton noted that the circuit “has expanded its use of virtual technology and will continue to use and increase the use of such technology to conduct remote judicial proceedings as a preferred alternative to in-person proceedings, in the interest of public health and safety.”

As of June 15, the circuit also will establish “an in-court, out-to-bond (OTB) pod…for those criminal cases where defendants and ultimately in civil cases where only one party to a matter does not otherwise have access to technology that would allow him/her the opportunity to appear before the court in a virtual capacity.” All other in-court proceedings remain suspended under the order.

Melton also ordered existing emergency protocols to remain in place and for each court division to “continue to maintain its website and other means for the public to access information regarding the court’s status at all times, in addition to providing the means for public access to virtual proceedings.”