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Courts Closed to June 1, 2020 the earliest: what does it mean?

The new Supreme Judicial Court order closes courts to the public until June 1, 2020. All jury trials whether criminal or civil will not happen until July 1, 2020. So what does it all mean?

Courts are still closed for the majority of cases. If you have an emergency situation the court is open for limited purposes. The reality is most of the court's business will likely be done virtually whether by phone or via video conference.

Speedy trial rights continue to be suspended to June 1, 2020. Normally, you can move to try to have a case dismissed if the government takes too long to prosecute your case. The SJC has ruled that the time delay due to COVID-19 court closure does not count towards that time limit. For people in jail awaiting trial, this continues to be a constitutional issue to their rights.

The statute of limitations have been tolled during the COVID-19 court shut down. The statute of limitations give a time limit on how long the government has to bring a criminal charge against a person. As of right now the time that the courts are closed due to COVID-19 do not count towards the statute of limitations.

If you are waiting for a jury trial on your case, you will have to wait beyond June, 1, 2020. With the new SJC order, the courts will not allow a jury trial prior to July 1, 2020. That may still be optimistic as Chief Justice Gants hinted at a slow ramp up of court proceedings. What we know right now is that you can't have a jury trial until earliest July 1. However depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic is going during this summer that date could be pushed again.

Restraining orders are considered part of emergency hearings and have been heard in court. Most if not all the hearings are done through the phone right now and that could change in June. It is important to call the court house prior to going to file a restraining order. Each court has their own procedures on how to deal with restraining orders. However, they are still being heard and issued.

Learn more about restraining orders

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