Delaware courts ordered to close

Only 24-hour Justice of the Peace Courts remain open
March 23, 2020

All Delaware courts were closed March 23 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Courthouse staffing was reduced to focus on handling emergency and essential matters, particularly those involving criminal justice, said Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr.

The 24-hour Justice of the Peace Court locations in each county (Court 11 in New Castle County, Court 7 in Kent County and Court 3 in Sussex County) will remain open for payment of bail for all courts, and emergency criminal and civil filings for the Justice of the Peace Court. Those employees not directed to be part of the limited staffing of the courts are being directed to stay home and, as directed, work remotely until further notice, Seitz said.

Each courthouse will provide a method – such as a drop box – for attorneys and the public without access to e-filing who need to file paper documents when e-filing is not available. When practical, Seitz said, the courts shall provide an email address for attorneys and the public to email documents which will be considered filed with the court when received.

Family Court will continue to handle emergency requests for Protection from Abuse Orders, emergency child welfare, custody, visitation, and guardianship matters, and limited adult criminal and juvenile delinquency matters.  Temporary procedures have been adopted to make it easier to communicate and file remotely.

On March 20, Sussex County Family Court courthouse in Georgetown was closed after an employee fell ill, forcing the building’s closure for decontamination.

The employee was later found to have an unrelated health condition and not COVID-19; however, the person was transported by ambulance to a medical facility, said Sean O’Sullivan, spokesman for the courts.

Out of an abundance of caution, he said, court officials proceeded as though it was a case of COVID-19. The building was immediately cleared, all court calendars were suspended, and employees were sent home, based on precautionary measures recommended by the Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.


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