Court Operations During COVID-19: 50-State Resources
State court systems across the country significantly altered their operations in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many courts initially limited proceedings to only the most essential and urgent matters, such as arraignments and restraining order hearings. While most jurisdictions have resumed many of their normal operations, courts often are still allowed or encouraged to conduct some proceedings remotely.
Click on the states below to learn more about how each state court system is currently responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Court Operating Status: During a temporary state of emergency, judges can use their discretion to conduct proceedings through audio or video technology upon making written findings that time is of the essence, and the use of these technologies is necessary for the proper administration of justice. This state of emergency will last through March 31, 2022.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials can proceed as usual.
Court Operating Status: Judges should continue to liberally allow remote participation in regions with high or substantial coronavirus case rates, and in pre-trial hearings in which personal appearances are not necessary. Judges should avoid requiring parties to attend large block hearings at which they cannot enforce social distancing.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Civil jury trials are suspended statewide until January 10, 2022, except for situations in which a presiding judge approves a request by a trial judge or a party to hold a trial. Criminal jury trials are suspended in certain locations under local orders. Beginning on January 10, 2022, however, there will be no further suspensions of criminal jury trials unless there are extraordinary circumstances, such as an inability to socially distance participants, enforce masking, or provide a sufficient number of jurors. Judges may impose additional COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Court Operating Status: The Arizona Supreme Court has provided a three-phase reopening plan, although Phase II is divided into two phases. Different courts are in different phases of the plan. In general, courts can conduct in-person operations if this can be accomplished safely in light of coronavirus concerns. Remote proceedings will continue to be utilized to the extent necessary. Presiding superior court judges have the authority to determine how in-person court proceedings and courthouse activities will be conducted in their respective counties. Worsening conditions in a county may result in the reimposition of previously lifted restrictions. The public has access to criminal and civil court proceedings by video or phone. Arraignments in misdemeanor cases for defendants not in custody may be conducted through an online dispute resolution system. Attorneys, litigants, and the public should check with local courts for local practices and advisories. For example, courthouse mask rules may vary by county.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials may be held, subject to judicial discretion related to health and safety. Presiding superior court judges can decide when jury and grand jury proceedings can be held, and technology can be used for juror selection as well as grand jury proceedings and jury trials.
Court Operating Status: All court proceedings, criminal and civil, including appearances, hearings, and arraignments, may take place either by video conference or in person, as determined by the presiding judge. Requests for remote participation in court proceedings will be evaluated according to ordinary rules, rather than standards specific to COVID-19.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials were allowed to resume on May 1, 2021. Any trial delay due to COVID-19 precautions will not be included in speedy trial calculations. Criminal trials must be conducted in person, but civil trials may be conducted remotely or partly remotely.
Court Operating Status: Courts may require hearings and court operations to be conducted remotely with the use of technology, subject to the consent of the defendant in criminal cases. Criminal defendants may appear through counsel or remotely via technology in pre-trial criminal hearings. Civil statutes of limitations and certain other timelines have been adjusted. Lower courts may adopt their own proposed rules or rule amendments, which may take effect immediately.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: There is no statewide suspension of jury trials. Individual courts are making independent decisions about whether jury trials are appropriate.
Court Operating Status: Local courts are to continue operating on an emergency basis until further notice, and they should utilize remote proceedings to the greatest extent possible due to COVID-19 concerns. Subject to judicial discretion, higher priority should be given to urgent matters, such as those involving restraining orders and bail setting.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: No person shall be summoned for jury service in a Colorado court without the authorization of the Chief Judge of that judicial district, who must determine whether the jury pool can be assembled while complying with applicable executive orders and health directives.
Court Operating Status: Connecticut courts are authorized to handle most matters in person. Meanwhile, courts also have expanded their technological capabilities so that many types of pre-trial proceedings and non-jury trials may be conducted remotely.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: The jury trial process resumed on June 1, 2021, while complying with directives from the Governor and consulting with public health officials.
Court Operating Status: The Delaware judicial emergency ended on July 13, 2021. Normal court rules and procedures have been restored. Courts are still encouraged to use technology for certain hearings and procedures when appropriate and consistent with constitutional and statutory requirements and court rules. Special rules apply to cases delayed by the pandemic so that courts can hear those cases in a timely manner.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have resumed. Criminal cases delayed by the pandemic receive priority.
Court Operating Status: Hearings other than jury trials will continue to be conducted remotely in the Civil Division. Other than jury trials, no parties or attorneys should appear in person unless they are directed to do so by a judge. The Criminal Division has resumed hearings in all misdemeanor and felony cases. The Domestic Violence Division is operating remotely unless a judge orders that a hearing be held in person. Except for fact-finding hearings in delinquency cases, the Family Court is holding hearings remotely unless a judge finds good cause for an in-person hearing. All hearings in the Probate Division and the Tax Division are being held remotely.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: In-person jury trials have resumed. The Criminal Division prioritizes trials in cases involving detained defendants.
Court Operating Status: Most proceedings other than jury trials must be conducted remotely as appropriate. Masks and social distancing are no longer required in courtrooms. Check the individual website of your local circuit court regarding its operational status.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Civil and criminal jury trials and grand jury proceedings may proceed and generally must be conducted in person. Civil jury trials may be conducted remotely with the consent of all parties, and criminal jury trials may be conducted remotely with the defendant’s consent if certain other requirements are met.
Court Operating Status: The statewide judicial emergency ended on June 30, 2021. All deadlines that had been suspended and tolled were reimposed. Local courts have the authority to issue local judicial emergency orders, subject to certain limitations.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials and grand jury proceedings may proceed.
Court Operating Status: Matters identified by the chief judge of each circuit, or by the presiding judge on a case-by-case basis, should be held remotely due to COVID-19 to the degree allowed by law. Any plans to resume operations should comply with social distancing mandates and account for public health circumstances and county health orders. Chief judges or presiding judges may postpone matters for health and safety reasons. Access to judiciary facilities is restricted based on public health protocols. A vaccination or testing requirement applies to attorneys entering judiciary facilities.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials can resume, barring any public health developments that would make them unsafe.
Court Operating Status: Judges generally have the discretion to hold proceedings in person or remotely, although trials involving the termination of parental rights and certain felony sentencing hearings must be conducted in person.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials and grand jury proceedings have resumed, subject to limitations involving public health metrics and the discretion of administrative district judges regarding health or safety risks. Testimony may be offered remotely in some cases.
Court Operating Status: Chief circuit judges have been authorized to develop localized plans for resuming operations in their circuit, based on factors provided by the Illinois Supreme Court. This has led to variations among circuits and counties. Some courts are open only for emergencies, while other courts may hear both essential and non-essential matters in person, subject to judicial discretion regarding public health considerations and court logistics. Continued use of remote proceedings is encouraged when possible to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Adult criminal case proceedings have been divided into four categories: proceedings that can be held remotely without a waiver by the defendant, proceedings that can be held remotely with a waiver by the defendant, proceedings that can be held remotely with the written consent of the defendant if the judge finds that this would not jeopardize the integrity of the trial process, and proceedings that cannot be held remotely in any circumstances (only jury trials). Separate sets of rules apply to each category.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Local courts are authorized to continue any ongoing suspension of in-person jury proceedings until further order of the Illinois Supreme Court. A criminal jury trial may not be conducted remotely, even if the defendant consents. Remote jury selection by video conference in civil cases is temporarily permitted.
Court Operating Status: To address coronavirus risks, courts are proceeding under individualized transition plans, which were submitted to the Indiana Supreme Court for approval. Although courts should make it a priority to resume holding hearings live and in person when conditions safely permit, public health conditions will likely require trial courts to retain expanded authority for remote hearings beyond July 1, 2021. Courts are authorized to live stream hearings that normally would be open to the public.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: In-person jury trials were allowed to resume on March 1, 2021. Deadlines based on trial dates have been adjusted.
Court Operating Status: Civil proceedings are presumed to be held in person, but civil proceedings other than trials may be held via remote technology upon court order, and parties may request the use of remote technology. Trials are presumed to be held in person, but a court may permit remote trials or take testimony remotely in civil cases with the parties’ consent and at the court’s discretion. Certain specific rules apply to initial appearances, arraignments, bond reviews, sentencing, and other distinctive phases of criminal cases.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have resumed.
Court Operating Status: Courts must adopt minimum standard health protocols based on local health conditions. Courts should continue using remote hearings to handle cases efficiently and safely. A court must permit a party, attorney, or witness to participate remotely upon request if they show good cause.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Many courts have resumed jury trials. A court must submit a plan for resuming jury trials to the Office of Judicial Administration. Courts must conduct criminal trials in person unless a defendant clearly waives any applicable constitutional and statutory rights. Courts should consider conducting civil trials remotely if the case is conducive to a remote proceeding, technology is available, procedural requirements are waived, and the parties consent. Jury selection should be conducted in person in most cases. A court should consider conducting grand jury proceedings virtually if the court can maintain secrecy regarding jury selection and deliberations.
Court Operating Status: Judges may conduct in-person proceedings, although the continued use of remote technology is encouraged, and anyone with a scheduled remote hearing may appear remotely.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials may resume, although continuances, postponements, and recusals must be granted to attorneys, parties, and jurors who are ill or at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Court Operating Status: Courts may resume in-person proceedings in civil and criminal matters. However, courts are encouraged to continue to conduct matters remotely when possible, with the consent of all parties and the judge. A party in a civil matter may not unreasonably withhold consent to remote proceedings. Strict social distancing rules and occupancy limits apply to in-person proceedings to minimize coronavirus risks.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials and grand jury proceedings may move forward. Local courts must determine whether jury trials can be conducted safely in their jurisdictions. Criminal trials involving defendants in custody take priority over other trials, and jurors who cite pandemic-related health concerns must be excused.
Court Operating Status: Presiding judges have the discretion to conduct proceedings remotely or in person, and to allow people involved in proceedings to participate remotely or in person. In choosing between remote and in-person proceedings, a judge must consider the health and safety of the people involved, the ability of the parties to participate remotely, and the effect of their decision on the availability of limited Judicial Branch resources to other parties.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials and grand jury proceedings may be scheduled and held.
Court Operating Status: Courts have resumed full operations, while continuing to require social distancing and health measures. Some courts will continue using technology for remote proceedings, but this will vary by court location.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have resumed.
Court Operating Status: Courts are open for in-person business, but they may conduct certain proceedings virtually when it is consistent with constitutional rights and statutory requirements. When an in-person proceeding is scheduled, a party can request to have the proceeding held virtually.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have resumed, and criminal trials with the defendant in custody take priority. Jury trials in civil cases may be conducted remotely with the written consent of all parties. Jury empanelments may be conducted remotely in criminal and civil cases with the consent of all parties.
Court Operating Status: All courts have entered the final stage of the four-stage reopening plan. Proceedings will be conducted virtually to the maximum extent possible, but in-person court proceedings are permitted, consistent with public health guidance and MIOSHA guidelines. If COVID-19 cases rise in a local jurisdiction, the court may implement mitigation measures provided in the first three phases of the plan.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: In-person jury trials may resume.
Court Operating Status: Proceedings that may be conducted in person include jury trials, grand jury proceedings, certain criminal sentencing hearings, certain juvenile cases, criminal settlement conferences, and certain proceedings in treatment court. Other proceedings will be held remotely unless the chief judge of the district grants an exception for an in-person proceeding.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: In-person criminal jury trials may be held in any county if local health conditions permit. In-person civil jury trials may be held if they do not affect the scheduling of criminal jury trials in the district. Civil jury trials may be held remotely if the judge and the parties agree. Grand jury proceedings may be held in person.
Court Operating Status: Courts must stay open to fulfill their constitutional and statutory duties. Individual judges have the discretion to control their own dockets but are urged to limit in-person courtroom contact as much as possible. Judges are encouraged to refer to Mississippi Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Certain types of urgent and time-sensitive matters must be conducted in person if remote technology is not available or feasible.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have resumed. (Judges had the discretion to postpone jury trials scheduled through November 12, 2021.)
Court Operating Status: Chief and presiding judges will continue to monitor local public health conditions and implement guidelines necessary to ensure the safety of those appearing or working in court facilities. Judges should consider allowing vulnerable litigants, witnesses, victims, attorneys, and participants to appear or participate remotely or postpone their required presence at a court facility.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: There are no statewide restrictions on jury trials. Courts and judges may follow or implement any procedures contained in the Supreme Court of Missouri’s guidelines for jury proceedings issued on April 6, 2021.
Court Operating Status: Courts can continue utilizing remote or telephone hearings. Attorneys or litigants who are considered to be at high risk if exposed to COVID-19 should be allowed to appear remotely. Courts should continue working with local health officials on screening procedures for those entering courthouses.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials can take place, with public health protocols such as managing the number of jurors called for voir dire and excusing jurors in advance who may be at high risk.
Court Operating Status: All courts are open. Each judicial district must adopt a plan outlining minimum measures to prevent coronavirus transmission when it is substantial or high in their district. This may include remote hearings. Local courts have issued orders that can be viewed on the Nebraska Judicial Branch website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: No statewide suspension. Local court orders for court operations may include provisions related to jury trials.
Court Operating Status: No statewide restrictions, but district courts have been issuing orders throughout the coronavirus pandemic regarding their operations.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: No statewide suspension, but district courts have been issuing orders regarding their operations, which can include provisions related to jury trials. Check local courts for current information.
Court Operating Status: Courts are fully open and fully staffed. Scheduled in-person events are expanding gradually. Judges will address issues related to COVID-19 based on the circumstances of an individual case.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Some in-person jury trials and grand jury proceedings are being held, with health and safety protocols subject to further adjustments. Many civil jury trials have been conducted virtually.
Court Operating Status: All state courts are open and operating. Probate and municipal courts may close under certain circumstances. Most proceedings are taking place remotely, but the types of matters being held in person have been increasing. The New Mexico Supreme Court has outlined public health protocols for conducting in-person hearings, trials, and other court-organized gatherings.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Civil and criminal jury trials have resumed and are being conducted in person.
Court Operating Status: In-person staffing levels have returned to normal in courthouses and other court facilities. Courts are expanding in-person operations, with some matters continuing to be held virtually. Judicial districts have issued orders for local court operations, which can be viewed on the New York State Unified Court website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: In-person civil and criminal jury trials have resumed.
Court Operating Status: Efforts are being made toward a full reopening of the courts. Remote proceedings may continue to be conducted. All prior COVID-19 emergency directives issued by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court have been terminated. Legislation enacted into law in June 2021 (Senate Bill 255) contains provisions that were previously included in the emergency directives (such as allowing court proceedings to take place by audio and video). Local court operating updates are available on the North Carolina Judicial Branch website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Senior resident superior court judges are strongly encouraged to do whatever they can to resume jury trials without delay. Local court operating updates are available on the North Carolina Judicial Branch website.
Court Operating Status: The North Dakota Supreme Court has repealed or amended a number of emergency orders pertaining to court operations and procedures. Judges have discretion in deciding how court proceedings should be conducted. Court personnel and users of court facilities must meet or exceed mask or face covering requirements applicable in the local jurisdiction. In-person oral arguments have resumed in the North Dakota Supreme Court.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have been allowed to resume.
Court Operating Status: Courts are open but with modified procedures, and many courts have significantly limited in-person interactions. The Supreme Court of Ohio has published operational guidance and recommendations for local courts during the coronavirus pandemic. Local court operating updates are available on the Supreme Court of Ohio & Ohio Judicial System website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: The status of jury proceedings varies by local jurisdiction, and updates are available on the Supreme Court of Ohio & Ohio Judicial System website. Any in-person trial must follow public health protocols. The Ohio Jury Trial Advisory Group has provided recommendations for resuming jury trials.
Court Operating Status: Orders have been issued at the county level pertaining to local court operations and are available on the Oklahoma State Courts Network website. District Court judges are authorized to take any steps needed to protect the health and safety of participants in court proceedings. Judges are encouraged to continue using remote means of participation for court proceedings. All rules and procedures, and all deadlines defined by statute, rule, or order in any civil, juvenile, or criminal case, are again being enforced.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: District Court judges have the authority to determine the specific timing of any jury term and civil or criminal jury trial.
Court Operating Status: Social distancing is no longer required in court facilities, although a presiding judge may issue an order requiring social distancing in the public areas of a court facility through June 30, 2022. Face coverings are generally required. In circuit court, the presiding judge has discretion (with limited exceptions) to decide whether proceedings should be conducted in person or remotely. Local court operating updates are available on the Oregon Judicial Department website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trial proceedings have resumed.
Court Operating Status: The statewide judicial emergency ended as of June 1, 2020. However, local courts are empowered to declare local emergencies. Under such emergencies, limits may be imposed on in-person proceedings, and access to court facilities may be restricted. Orders from local courts are available on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Orders from local courts, which may include provisions pertaining to jury trials, are available on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania website.
Court Operating Status: Courts are gradually returning to normal operations. The Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an order on July 20, 2021, requiring courts to identify types of cases and hearings that shall continue to be conducted remotely. Courts have resumed in-person hearings in all other proceedings.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury and bench trials can be conducted without restrictions. Bench trials may be conducted remotely upon the agreement of all parties and the court.
Court Operating Status: Circuit, family, probate, master-in-equity, and summary courts have been allowed to resume in-person proceedings. The use of remote technology to conduct hearings and other proceedings continues to be permitted. The Chief Justice will continue to issue and modify guidance as appropriate, and trial judges will take mitigation measures to address unique risks in any individual case. Hearings on motions should be minimized for efficiency.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Circuit courts may resume conducting in-person grand jury proceedings. Circuit and summary courts may resume holding jury trials, which generally should be conducted in person.
Court Operating Status: The South Dakota Supreme Court declared a judicial emergency on March 13, 2020 and granted the Presiding Judge of each of South Dakota’s seven judicial circuits the authority to enter orders to respond to the coronavirus emergency in their respective jurisdictions. These orders and other local operating updates are available on the South Dakota Unified Judicial System website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Check the orders and updates discussed above for local operating conditions. The South Dakota Supreme Court has also suspended provisions of South Dakota Codified Laws section 23A-44-5-1 (commonly known as the 180-day rule), which requires a defendant to be brought to trial within 180 days of their first appearance before a judicial officer on an indictment, information, or complaint.
Court Operating Status: In-person court proceedings have been allowed to resume. Courtroom capacity requirements have been lifted, but judges have the authority to limit the number of people in a courtroom as necessary. Methods to conduct court business other than in-person proceedings (such as teleconferencing and video conferencing) should be the preferred option over in-person court proceedings.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have been allowed to resume.
Court Operating Status: Courts are allowed to resume conducting in-person proceedings but may continue to use reasonable efforts to conduct proceedings remotely. Courts that have not already done so should move swiftly to return to regular pre-trial and trial proceedings as soon as reasonably feasible before March 1, 2022. Any court may modify or suspend certain deadlines and procedures until March 1, 2022, with limited exceptions.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: In-person jury proceedings have been allowed to resume. In criminal cases involving a potential jail or prison sentence, remote jury proceedings must not be conducted over the objection of the defendant or the prosecutor. Remote jury proceedings must not be conducted in other cases unless the court has considered on the record or in a written order any objection or motion related to moving ahead with the proceeding at least seven days before the jury proceeding (or as soon as practicable if the objection or motion is made or filed within seven days of the jury proceeding).
Court Operating Status: Courts are following a coronavirus pandemic Risk Phase Response Plan, which includes red, yellow, and green phases and associated operating guidelines. Courts are currently authorized to operate in the Yellow phase. Courts must continue to use remote hearings when feasible in accordance with the Risk Phase Response Plan. Courts may hold an in-person proceeding listed in the Risk Phase Response Plan as an approved in-person proceeding. Holding an in-person proceeding not listed in the plan generally requires approval from the presiding judge. When resuming in-person proceedings, priority should be given to proceedings that cannot be held remotely, such as jury trials.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: For courts in the Yellow phase, District Court and Justice Court judges may conduct criminal and civil jury trials, subject to public health protocols and other operational requirements.
Court Operating Status: Courts are open but with adjusted operations. Some hearings, including trials, are held in person, while other hearings continue to be held remotely. Health screening and safety protocols are in effect when visiting court facilities.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Superior courts may conduct jury trials with the authorization of the Chief Superior Judge and the Court Administrator.
Court Operating Status: A Declaration of Judicial Emergency has been extended through January 5, 2022. Chief judges and presiding judges have discretion in determining how to safely operate their courts. Speedy trial act deadlines are tolled. Check local courts for specific operating updates.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Chief judges and presiding judges have discretion in determining how to safely conduct jury trials in their courts.
Court Operating Status: Courts have authority to conduct all proceedings in civil matters by remote means or in person with public health protocols. Non-jury civil and criminal trials may be conducted by remote means or in person with public health protocols. The Temple of Justice building in Olympia is closed to the public until further notice. Check local courts for specific operating updates.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials have been allowed to resume and should be conducted consistent with the most protective applicable public health guidance in the jurisdiction.
Court Operating Status: On June 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia issued an order that suspended prior COVID-19 safety protocols and guidance (except for protocols for incarcerated individuals, which remain in effect). Courts may continue to use remote technology to conduct hearings and proceedings as appropriate. Local judicial officers can implement COVID-19 safety measures to protect public health as appropriate for their community.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trial proceedings have been allowed to resume.
Court Operating Status: Statewide COVID-19 court operating requirements have ended. Circuit courts and municipal courts, with the approval of the applicable chief judge, shall make county-wide decisions regarding court operating requirements.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Civil and criminal jury trials can resume at a circuit court as determined via the county-level framework described above.
Court Operating Status: In-person proceedings in Circuit and District Courts and the Wyoming Supreme Court may take place based on a COVID-19 operating plan that has been adopted by the judges of the relevant courthouse and submitted to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Judges are encouraged to use remote technology for hearings. The Wyoming Supreme Court has issued reopening guidelines for court employees and public proceedings that include public health protocols. COVID-19 operating plans for District, Circuit, and Municipal Courts are available on the Wyoming Judicial Branch website.
Jury Trials/Proceedings: Jury trials can only be held if certain conditions are met, including a determination by the presiding judge that the trial can be conducted safely. Civil trials, hearings, and motions may take place based on a COVID-19 operating plan that has been adopted by the judges of the relevant courthouse and submitted to the Wyoming Supreme Court. COVID-19 operating plans also will govern courtroom attendance at in-person proceedings.