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Court suspended through mid June; trials prohibited

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Court has been dismissed, again.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently announced an extension of its “Statewide Judicial Emergency Order” through June 12. The order was set to expire on May 13.

All criminal jury trials are “prohibited,” according to a letter from Chief Justice Harold Melton obtained by The Baldwin Bulletin on Monday. Also, only those grand jury matters perceived to be “time-sensitive or essential” will be allowed, added the letter.

Early January was the last time that a grand jury convened in Baldwin County.

“I certainly think that it was the appropriate thing to do,” District Attorney Steve Bradley told The Baldwin Bulletin. “There’s no reason to put people who are doing nothing more than their civic duty in danger. We all need to look out for each other right now.”

All misdemeanor court and traffic court also will be postponed until at least June 12, according to Solicitor General Skye Gess.

Video teleconferencing and “Zoom meetings” will continue through June 12. These include “the participation of litigants, lawyers, witnesses and other essential personnel in remote judicial proceedings, including non-jury trials and other non-jury adjudicative proceedings,” according to the Supreme Court letter.

In Baldwin County and the rest of the eight-county Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, legal proceedings have continued via video teleconferencing since March. These have included bond hearings, pre-trial hearings and even several court pleas.

“Between the eight different counties, there really hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that we haven’t had something,” Bradley said. “It’s been a great technology.”