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Courthouses closing Monday for several weeks or more in response to COVID-19

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s court system is coming to a near standstill as part of the state's COVID-19 response.

Delaware’s Chief Justice ordered nearly all court facilities closed to the public starting Monday. They will remain closed until at least April 15.

Chief Justice Collins Seitz Jr. says only the 24-hour Justice of the Peace Courts in each county remain open for bail payments and emergency filings for JP court. 

Earlier this month, Delaware’s Superior Court suspended civil and criminal jury trials until April 15, and the state’s Supreme Court cancelled oral arguments through May. 

Chief Justice Seitz also declared a judicial emergency last week, offering trial courts flexibility to issue 30-day continuances for trials and hearings in civil and criminal cases. It also paused time requirements under the Speedy Trial Guidelines and urged courts to use audiovisual devices to conduct proceedings.

Seitz said in a statement Sunday that despite courts’ use of video and phone technology instead of in-person appearances, several possible exposures to the virus occurred in the court system. He added that given the “escalating nature” of the public health emergency, these further measures needed. 

Under the new rules, each courthouse will provide a method, like a drop box, for attorneys and the public to file paper documents when e-filing is not available.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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